Gujarat govt 'suppressing' COVID-19 death figures: Congress

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Ahmedabad, Apr 16 (PTI) As crematoriums in several cities of Gujarat operate round-the-clock since the last couple of weeks, the opposition Congress on Friday accused the BJP government of suppressing actual COVID-19 death figures in the state.

The state government has cited ICMR guidelines to claim there is no tinkering with death figures.

Congress MLA Vimal Chudasama, citing a data sheet which suggested that though 39 persons, who were admitted to the Veraval civil hospital of Gir-Somnath district as COVID-19 'positive' patients, had died in the last 17 days, these fatalities did not get reflected in the tally released daily by the Health Department.

'As per the state government records, not a single COVID-19 patient has died in the entire Gir-Somnath district in recent times. But now, I have the proof, signed by an official, which clearly suggests that 39 coronavirus patients have died in the last 17 days at Veraval civil hospital' said the MLA, who represents the Somnath seat in the assembly. Gujarat Congress spokesperson Manish Doshi alleged that the Vijay Rupani government is 'suppressing figures to hide the reality from the people'.

As per the government's daily bulletins, less than 100 persons have succumbed to coronavirus in Surat city during the last four days, from April 12 till April 15. However, as per the figures obtained from major crematoriums in Suratcity, around 200 bodies are cremated every day in three major crematoriums.

As per government guidelines, if people with comorbidities die of coronavirus, they may not be included as death by COVID-19. A death audit committee takes a final call to categorise the deaths.

However, the last rites of such bodies are performed as per the protocols set for COVID-19 victims.

Of around 70 bodies reaching Kurukhsetra Crematorium of Surat city every day, an average 50 bodies are marked as 'to be disposed as per Covid protocols', said Kamlesh Sailor, president of a trust which manages the crematorium.

Similarly, over 100 bodies, including COVID-19 patients and those who die of comorbidities and other causes, are cremated daily at Ashvini Kumar Crematorium, the oldest such facility in Surat, said manager Prashant Kabrawala.

Chief Minister Vijay Rupani recently denied reports that the state government was hiding the actual data on fatalities caused by the COVID-19 infection.

'As per the guidelines of the ICMR, if a comorbid patient dies then a committee of experts decides the primary and secondary causes of such death. If that committee identifies the main cause of the death as a heart attack then even though the patient was infected, such death is not counted as caused by coronavirus. The same system is followed in the entire country,' he had said. PTI PJT PD RSY RSY