A mismatch between the official figure of deaths because of COVID-19 and the death count at crematoriums has been reported in Uttar Pradesh's capital Lucknow, triggering allegations that the UP government has been underreporting the coronavirus situation in the state.
The cumulative official Covid death count released by the government in the last seven days is 124. However, per the records maintained by the city's crematoriums, over 400 people who died because of the virus had been cremated during the same period. This means the deaths of 276 people were missing from the official records.
On April 13, the government's official death count was 18, but 86 bodies were cremated. On April 12, 86 were cremated; the official figure was 21. A day before that, 57 bodies were cremated; the official death count was 31. Similarly, on April 10, 59 bodies were cremated against the official death figure of 23.
"It is not in my knowledge. I maintain records of all the bodies of Covid victims I know of...I don't know about other deaths," Amit Singh, a senior Lucknow official, told NDTV.
Asked about the discrepancies in official records, the government said Covid victims from neighbouring districts and other states were also being cremated in the city.
The government only keeps the records of those who are admitted to hospitals or registered with the Chief Medical Officer, it added.
"We have only presented the list of those who were admitted to the hospital or those registered with the CMO...people who come from other districts and states and unfortunately die here, they also get cremated in the city," UP Deputy Chief Minister Dinesh Sharma told NDTV.
Like other parts of the country, Uttar Pradesh has also been facing the rapid second wave of infections. The most populous state in the country on Wednesday reported a single-day spike of 17,963 coronavirus cases. According to the government, 85 people died of the disease in the same period.
The state had reported over 18,000 cases on Tuesday, which was its highest single-day tally.
Meanwhile, Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath today tested positive for the virus.
The Allahabad High Court on Tuesday called the government's night curfew an inadequate measure and asked it to consider imposing a full lockdown in worst-hit areas.