Data fixed, Mumbai toll surges by 900-plus

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Written by Tabassum Barnagarwala , ZEESHAN SHAIKH | Mumbai | Published: June 17, 2020 3:40:17 am

Data fixed, Mumbai toll surges by 900-plus Maharashtra’s Covid-19 death tally surged by 1,409 on Tuesday, taking its total toll to 5,537, following a data reconciliation process initiated by the state government. (Express file photo by Prashant Nadkar)

MAHARASHTRA’S Covid-19 death tally surged by 1,409 on Tuesday, taking its total toll to 5,537, following a data reconciliation process initiated by the state government.

Of the 1,409, only 81 of the deaths were reported on Tuesday. The remaining 1,328 deaths have occurred since March and been added to the numbers now.

The death toll for Mumbai went up by 917 on Tuesday, to a total of 3,167. Similarly, of these deaths, 55 occurred on Tuesday; while 862 deaths since March not registered as Covid fatalities have been added to the tally now. The Indian Express had reported on Tuesday about 451 Covid deaths in Mumbai having gone unreported.

The mortality rate in the state, with 1,13,445 cases, now stands at 4.8% (it was 3.7% earlier) — much higher than the national average of 2.8%. The active case count for the state is 50,044 (or 44.11% of the total). Mumbai has 60,228 cases, 43.18% of them (26,012) active.

Following a reconciliation exercise that ended on June 6, a mismatch in death toll was noticed by officials between state government figures and the figures uploaded on an ICMR portal. Subsequently, all districts were told to update each patient’s case details and upload the data. On June 11, Health Secretary Dr Pradeep Vyas had written to all districts giving them time until June 15 to update figures.

Senior officials said the data reconciliation exercise is only halfway through and more unreported deaths may emerge. Vyas said, “We have over a lakh cases in Maharashtra and entry for each case has to be made… The government has no intention to hide any death. We will be declaring all deaths as the process of cleaning data continues.”

A senior state health official said, “Districts have also been instructed to report deaths and cases in real time, to ensure correct reporting.” Senior officials said instructions had come from Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray to “transparently report all figures” after the discrepancy first emerged.

After Mumbai, the maximum unreported deaths were found in Thane (146); followed by Pune (85); Solapur (51); Jalgaon (34); Aurangabad (33); Nashik (28); Akola (14); Raigad (14); Dhule (12) and Palghar (11). A fewer number of unreported deaths were found in 14 other districts of Maharashtra.

There is concern regarding Thane, with 19,328 cases and 641 deaths now. Officials said private laboratories that conducted tests had accidentally entered Navi Mumbai data under Mumbai district and Thane Municipal Corporation data separately. “The procedure to clean data can take days in Thane,” a health official said.

When the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) was asked about the data discrepancy at a high-level meeting last week, sources said, the BMC acknowledged 451 ‘missing’ deaths in the official tally. Simultaneously, a decision was taken to officially direct each district to reconcile their data.

“After the data had been entered by each district, we began the data cleaning process on Monday evening. Several doctors worked overnight to reconcile the data,” a health official said.

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