Bihar Revises Covid Deaths By 72% To More Than 9,000, Sets Off New Row

The Nitish Kumar government on Wednesday reported that the number of deaths across the state in the pandemic was 9,375 compared to the figure of 5,424 earlier.

Bihar on Wednesday reported that the number of deaths across the state in pandemic was 9,375.

Highlights

  • Patna Court had asked for an audit of casualties in the April-May surge
  • State capital Patna reported the highest number of deaths - 2,303
  • India reported 6,148 new deaths in a day, the highest single-day spike
Patna/ New Delhi:

Bihar's massive revision in its Covid deaths figure to over 9,000 has become controversial with the 72 per cent jump raising more questions. Because of Bihar's update, India reported 6,148 new deaths today, the highest single-day spike.

The Nitish Kumar government on Wednesday reported that the number of deaths across the state in the pandemic was 9,375 compared to the figure of 5,424 earlier.

The Patna High Court had asked for an audit of casualties in the April-May second surge of Covid amid allegations that the Bihar government was hiding the scale of infections and deaths in the state. Shocking visuals of bodies floating in the river and washing up on the banks near Buxar last month reinforced the opposition's charge.

New figures after the three-week audit imply that while 1,600 people died of Covid in Bihar between March 2020 and 2021, the number of deaths from April to June 7 this year was a staggering 7,775, about six times more.

The state's Health Department said about 72 per cent more had been added after verification from all districts. It gave a break-up from 38 districts but did not specify when these additional deaths took place.

The most deaths, according to the new figures, took place in state capital Patna - 2,303. The city also accounted for the highest number of "additional deaths reported after verification".

But records of three government-run cremation centres in Patna confirm 3,243 "Covid cremations" and the fresh discrepancy is likely to draw more opposition criticism.

According to Pratyay Amrit, Principal Secretary, State Health Department, the difference could be explained by the fact that if a person from another district died in Patna and was cremated here, the death would be counted at the victim's native district and not Patna.

Chief Minister Nitish Kumar's native district Nalanda has added 222 deaths.

The state also reported a reduced recovery rate, down from 98.70 per cent to 97.65 per cent.

The opposition in Bihar has been accusing the state government of fudging figures to hide its failure to handle the coronavirus crisis.

Leader of opposition Tejashwi yadav tweeted that actual death count was twenty times more.

The state government indicated that the figures could be revised again.

"We are open to revising the figures if people come forward with genuine papers to prove their family members died due to Covid. Our real intention is to help not to hide anything. We are not ruling out some names that are still missing," Bihar Health Minister Mangal Pandey told NDTV.