Covid-19: India’s Total Death Toll Crosses 3 Lakh

Amidst India grapples with the deadly second wave of Covid-19 pandemic, the total number of deaths crossed 3 lakh, the third country after the United States and Brazil. With 4,454 more people succumbing to the disease in the last 24 hours, the total death toll in the country has reached 3,03,720, said the Union health ministry on Monday, May 24, morning.

In the last 24 hours as many as 2,22,315 more people tested positive resulting a cumulative caseload of 2,67,52,447. While a total of 3,02,544 have been recovered across the country in the same duration, taking the total number of recoveries to 2,37,28,011.

There are 27,20,716 active cases in the country currently, down by 84,683 as compared to Sunday.

India has tested 33,05,36,064 samples for Covid-19 until now, according to the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR). Of these, 19,28,127 samples were tested on Sunday.

However, experts and scientists have been warning that the real number of fatalities might be much higher than that of the officially recorded numbers especially when the rural population is under the clutches of devastating pandemic. Not only scientists and experts, the doctors, journalists and activists have been pointing out about the underreported Covid-19 deaths.

According to reports, in the first three weeks of April 2021, almost 1,000 bodies were disposed of with COVID-19 protocols in Bhopal, while government data listed only 50 COVID-19 deaths in the city. Another report said that in a single day Kanpur reported five times many funerals as normal, amounting to almost 400 extra funerals; but official figures listed three COVID-19 deaths on that day.

In a recent interview with The Indian Express, Dr Shahid Jameel, the senior virologist who had resigned a week back from a forum of scientific advisers set up by the government to detect variants of the coronavirus, said the real number of deaths would be 5-10 times of the reported deaths.

“The annual rate that the government of India reported to the World Bank and other organisations, the last rate that is available is for 2019 — and in 2019 our mortality rate was 7.3 per 1,000 per year. If you convert that into deaths per day, that turns out to 27,600 deaths per day. Now let’s say we have 4,000 deaths per day because of Covid. This number, 4,000, is only a 15% increase over the natural deaths happening. Now, with that small a difference you would not even notice it at crematorium grounds, at burial grounds. But what you are seeing is a completely different picture. You are seeing people waiting in line, not just to get into a hospital, but actually for their loved ones to be cremated, to be buried. That can only happen when even that system gets overwhelmed. You know — it will again be a guesstimate — I would think that unless the input at crematoriums doubles, we possibly will not see this kind of mayhem. And if you go by that logic, then we are looking at somewhere there is maybe around 5-10 times undercounting of deaths,” Dr Shahid said.

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