Fewer deaths in Mar-May this year versus 2019: Delhi civic bodies

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Delhi’s three municipal bodies have reported 36% fewer deaths in March, April and May this year according to data given by the municipalities.

According to data accessed by Hindustan Times from the corporations, the three civic bodies recorded 28,170 deaths between March and May in 2019. However, in the corresponding period this year, the agencies recorded around 10,000 fewer deaths —17,902, according to the corporation’s records.

This number includes those who succumbed to the coronavirus disease, a number the state government put at 1,214 on Friday, as against the 2,098 claimed by the municipal bodies.

The three corporations recorded 9,396 deaths in March 2019, and 8,718 this year — a difference of just 678. In March 2020, the North corporation recorded 3,702 deaths as against 4,359 last year.

The South and East corporations recorded 3, 232 and 1,784 deaths in March 2020 respectively. In March 2019, the South body reported 3,508 deaths and the East corporation’s tally stood at 1,529.

Hindustantimes

However, Delhi was under lockdown from March 22, when Prime Minister Narendra Modi had declared a janta curfew. Chief minister Arvind Kejriwal had ordered a week-long lockdown later that evening, and on March 24, the Prime Minister declared a nationwide lockdown.

In effect, Delhi was locked down for 10 days in March, and then for all of April and May.

April this year, for instance, saw nearly half the number of deaths as April last year, 4127 as against 9498.

Last April, the North body registered 3,891 deaths, the east body registered 2,085, and the South body added 3,522.

This April, the North body recorded 2,079 deaths, the East one 668 and the South body 1,380.

The agencies’ records saw deaths drop by nearly 45% in May this year. While there were 5,057 deaths in May this year, last year saw 9,276.

Civic officials said one reason for the sharp drop in reported deaths may be the nationwide lockdown itself. They said there were fewer road accident fatalities due to the lockdown, as well as fewer institutional deaths of people from outside Delhi, and a drop in food poisoning, water and vector-borne diseases.

Delhi traffic police data shows that between March 25 and May 27 this year, 39 fatal accidents were reported in the national capital, whereas before the lockdown from January 1 to March 25, there were 294 fatal accidents.

Traffic police estimates also show that before the lockdown, between 120 and 150 fatal road accidents were reported in the city every month on average .

“As people were not allowed to step out, there were very few road accidents. Deaths due to road accidents account for around 25% to 30% of the total deaths recorded in Delhi,” said Jai Prakash, standing committee chairperson, North Delhi Municipal Corporation.

He added, “Initially, out-patient departments in hospitals were also suspended, and non-Covid patients were not being admitted, so deaths were not reported from that section too. The number is low due to all these factors.”

With interstate movement into the Capital restricted for a considerable period, the number of patients coming from other parts of the country also saw a decline.

Dr PK Sharma, a former municipal health officer at the New Delhi Municipal Council and an epidemiologist, said, “Those who die in Delhi, irrespective of the state they belonged to, are issued death certificates by civic agencies here. Due to the lockdown, there were fewer people who came to Delhi for treatment. This is also a reason why the civic agencies reported fewer deaths during the lockdown. As people were restricted to their homes, deaths due to food poisoning or gastroenteritis, water-borne and vector-borne diseases could have registered a dip.”

“Fewer deaths were reported in 2020, between the months of March and May as compared to the same period in 2019. This is because traffic movement was completely restricted during the nationwide lockdown, so the number of deaths due to accidents was almost negligible in this period. We issue certificates only against deaths which are registered with us, and it is possible that some may not have been registered with us,” an SDMC official said.

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