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Naveen govt. under-reporting COVID deaths, says Odisha Cong.

The Odisha Congress on Monday accused the Naveen Patnaik government of under-reporting COVID-19 deaths to cover up its failure in tackling the pandemic.

“In about 40 days, Nayagarh, a small district, has officially communicated that 117 persons have succumbed to COVID-19. However, the State government has been maintaining Nayagarh’s COVID-19 death-toll at 59, combining fatalities of both first and second waves,” Congress leader Nishinkant Mishra told a press conference.

Mr. Mishra said Nayagarh’s actual deaths got exposed when the internal communication of inclusion of pandemic victims found its way to public domain.

“The government document says 117 persons died of COVID-19 between April 28 and June 10,” said the Congress leader.

Demanding a special audit of all COVID-19 deaths in the State, the Congress said there was nothing harm in making the actual death figure public.

“The Naveen Patnaik government has been blowing its own trumpets stating that the health crisis has been managed better than many of the States. If people come to know that the actual number of deaths is much higher than the official figure, the government will find itself in a spot of embarrassment,” he pointed out.

Alleging that under-reporting of deaths was deliberate, Mr. Mishra said the government must own responsibility for mismanaging the pandemic as many people in rural areas were left to die without the robust healthcare system.

The Congress said if the government continued to hide the death figures, many people who were entitled for social security schemes would be deprived of their due.

“People are already mentally and financially stressed. If they are further forced to run from pillar to post seeking the government’s validation of the death of their relatives due to COVID-19, it would add to their pain,” said Mr. Mishra.

Initially in the second wave, the State government had been reporting average daily COVID-19 deaths little above 20. However, after it drew flak for under-reporting of deaths, district authorities were asked to expedite death audits. Now, reported daily fatalities have doubled in the past fortnight.

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Printable version | Jul 30, 2021 11:46:02 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/naveen-govt-under-reporting-covid-deaths-says-odisha-cong/article34816977.ece

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