‘Odisha govt. downplaying virus death figures’

Relatives of victims allege names are missing from list put up by administration

It has been nine days since his grandfather passed away of COVID-19 and five days since his uncle died. But Ayush Panda has found their names missing in the death list put out by the Odisha government.

Similarly, Soumya Mishra said her grandfather passed away on September 24, but the government had not bothered to reflect the death in the bulletin circulated daily for the general public.

At a time when the Odisha government claimed to be among the few States having low COVID-19 fatalities in the country, ground reality tells a different story. Social media is flooded with concerns raised by people who accuse the government of downplaying death figures.

Responding to the State Health and Family Welfare Department on Twitter, Mr. Panda and Ms. Mishra rued that their information was not mentioned in the bulletin.

The State’s death toll crossed the 800 mark with 16 deaths reported on Monday. The fatalities have reached 813. However, going by reports, there is a huge mismatch between the State’s total death toll and deaths being reported from districts.

According to the State dashboard on COVID-19, Nuapada district has reported only one death of the total of 813 deaths that have occurred in the State.

When asked, Chief District Medical Officer (CDMO) Kali Charan Behera said, “We have already reported 19 COVID-19 deaths. I have no idea as to why deaths have not been reflected in the information put out by the government at State level.”

Mismatch of figures

As per the CDMO of Kalahandi, the district has so far registered 25 COVID-19 deaths. The State dashboard has put Kalahandi’s death toll at eight, including one death reported on Monday. Similarly, Kendrapara CDMO office has reported 20 deaths. The State government’s bulletin says 10 persons have died of COVID-19 in Kendrapara while one died due to non-COVID-19 reasons.

Recently, Congress leader Manas Choudhury indicated that the number of bodies being cremated in Bhubaneswar and Cuttack were not proportionate to the death figure being made public by the government.

On September 22, the government issued a direction for conducting State-level death audit to determine the cause of death. It ordered all hospitals to record all pre-existing disease with signs and symptoms to the State-level committee accompanied with the name and contact number of treating physicians.

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