Delhi municipal count puts COVID-linked funerals at double the death toll

Workers in protective suits prepare to cremate the body of a person who died of COVID-19 at Nigam Bodh Ghat in New Delhi on May 29, 2020.   | Photo Credit: PTI

The municipal corporations of Delhi have facilitated funerals of 2,098 confirmed COVID-19 cases, about double the official death toll reported so far, heads of the three civic bodies said at a press conference on Thursday.

While the Delhi government has said that only 1,085 deaths have occurred as of Thursday, civic body heads contested these figures. “Neither are they [the government] able to treat patients nor are they able to give proper numbers,” said Jai Prakash, Chairman of the standing committee of the North Delhi Municipal Corporation.


“In total, there are 1,080 COVID-19 deaths under the SDMC limits, 976 in the NDMC and 42 in the EDMC,” said Bhupendra Gupta, Chairman of the South body standing committee. “These are confirmed cases,” he added, as opposed to the suspected COVID-19 cases. Funerals of these cases are also conducted according to the COVID-19 protocol.

The bodies are identified as COVID-19 positive or suspected based on certificates issued by doctors when they are sent from the hospital, Mr. Gupta said.

Government’s defence

The Delhi government in a statement said that a “Death Audit Committee” comprising senior doctors has been “working impartially towards assessing deaths caused by the pandemic”. It added that the High Court had also “declared that the Death Audit Committee is working in an appropriate manner and the work of the committee cannot be questioned”.

Heads of the three civic bodies also offered all the facilities, including stadiums, community centres and other suitable places to be used as isolation centres and makeshift hospitals.

Leader of House of the SDMC, Kamaljeet Sherawat, said that the civic body’s 60-bedded Kalkaji Hospital could be used by the government for treating COVID-19 patients. Besides this, North body head said that COVID care wards were ready for use at the Hindu Rao Hospital.

Fund release

They also raised concerns about the release of funds to the municipal bodies. Mr. Jai Prakash rued that only ₹240 crore out of ₹556 crore due to the North body had been released in the first instalment and they needed to be given their dues in order to pay salaries.

It should be noted that doctors at the Kasturba Hospital, run by the North Delhi Municipal Corporation, had on Wednesday threatened to resign en masse over non-payment of salary for three months.

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Printable version | Oct 27, 2021 5:03:37 PM |

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