India’s official Covid-19 death toll crossed the 200,000 mark on Wednesday, making it the fourth country to cross the grim milestone, even though several experts and observers have warned that the actual toll may be many magnitudes higher, as India is undercounting and underreporting fatalities caused by the pandemic.
According to data released by the government, India reported 3,293 new deaths on Wednesday—crossing the 3,000 mark for the first time during this pandemic.
India has now officially reported 201,187 deaths from Covid-19, which puts it only behind Mexico, Brazil and the U.S. in terms of total fatalities.
India has continued to report more than 300,000 new Covid-19 cases every day over the past week, and since deaths are a trailing indicator, that number could continue to rise significantly.
Some experts, however, have warned that a large number of Covid-19 deaths continue to either be undercounted or underreported.
Local media reports appear to corroborate this concern, as an investigation by the news channel NDTV found more than 1,000 Covid deaths missing from the Delhi government’s official data.
Another report by the Hindu found that Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s home state Gujarat is undercounting deaths in several major cities like Surat and Ahmedabad, by not counting the deaths of people who had one or more comorbidities.
Amid mounting criticism against its handling of the pandemic, both the federal government and several state governments have moved to clamp down on dissent and anger on social media. Last week, the government ordered Twitter to remove more than 50 tweets from opposition lawmakers and journalists, several of which had criticized Modi for holding massive election rallies during the pandemic and his government’s failures to secure medical supplies and vaccines, among other things.
On Monday, the national vice-president of the Indian Medical Association (IMA), Dr. Navjot Dahiya, called Modi a ‘super spreader’ and blamed him for the second wave of the pandemic in India. “While the medical fraternity is trying hard to make people understand mandatory Covid norms, PM Modi did not hesitate to address the big political rallies, throwing all Covid norms in the air,” Dahiya said. “The scarcity of medical oxygen has become the reason for the death of many patients… several projects for installing the oxygen are still pending with the Union Government for clearance, but no heed was given to such an important need by the Modi government,” he added.
As Covid-19 Devastates India, Deaths Go Undercounted (New York Times)
By hiding the real number of Covid-19 cases and deaths, some Indian states are disempowering people (Scroll)
Coronavirus: Is India counting all COVID deaths? (Deutsche Welle)
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