10th Jun 2021 11:06:PM Editorials
Eastern Sentinel Arunachal News

On Thursday India made a new record of reporting the highest single-day death toll in the world-6148. An at-a-glance look at the figure will send shivers down the spine since for the last one week or more daily casualties had been falling successively, hovering somewhere around 2200. The ‘secret’ of this sudden inflation is that none of the additional 4000 deaths occurred during the last 24 hours, but were added to the national total after Bihar government made a revision of its Covid casualty figures following a Patna High Court order. The issue of alleged underreporting of Covid-caused deaths has once again received attention, triggering the question what the actual number of deaths are and how wide the variation is from official figures. There’s no answer except for resorting to wild guesses. A Bihar-like audit of Covid casualty figures on a national scale can only add clarity to the picture, which at the moment is blurred. Presumably, there will be a political fallout and if the truth gets unlocked from the cupboard, it could result in a further loss of face for many. However, it must be remembered that it pertains to the critical issue of public health in general and pandemics/epidemics in particular and ‘distorted data’ will only lead to framing of faulty health policies in future.

The word ‘grotesque’ probably has undergone an enrichment after Covid’s lethal streak in India and from now onwards as explanatory pictorial examples, images of dead bodies flowing across the Ganga might find a place in English lexicons. Clearly, these are outside official figures and in one such case the Bihar HC after finding wide inconsistencies in toll relating to Buxar district submitted through affidavits, ordered for a fresh recount with a categorical reminder to verify facts from “all sources”. The extent of underreporting of Covid-related deaths in Bihar has been mind-boggling, now clearly evident from the fact that the audit led to a massive jump of figures- by almost 79%. A global suspicion that India is engaged in an unethical game of undervaluing its Covid death toll was already there and after this ‘rectification’ it will gain weight. Estimate-based data regarding India’s Covid casualties prepared by international agencies dealing with after-effects of public health disasters and quoted by several reputed dailies are now aplenty and while some assert that it’s 6 lakh some say it’s 16 lakh- way high than the official count which on Thursday stood at nearly 3.6 lakh.

It’s undeniable that the country’s reputation is being tarnished. However, that any untrue figure will make the task of combating the future health calamities onerous is a bigger harm. A national Covid casualty audit is therefore very necessary. 

Kenter Joya Riba

(Managing Editor)
      She is a graduate in Science with post graduation in Sociology from University of Pune. She has been in the media industry for nearly a decade. Before turning to print business, she has been associated with radio and television.
Email: kenterjoyaz@easternsentinel.in / editoreasternsentinel@gmail.com
Phone: 0360-2212313

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