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No under-reporting of COVID-19 deaths: Health ministry

June 02, 2020 23:00 IST

The Union health ministry on Tuesday said there was no under-reporting of COVID-19 deaths in India and states are making assessment of causalities and attributing causes of deaths to COVID and non-COVID factors.


The ministry also said about 14 most affected countries with a cumulative population almost equal to that of India have reported 55.2 times more COVID-19 deaths and 22.5 times more cases.

Responding to a question on whether there is under-reporting of COVID-19 deaths as several states are not testing bodies for the infection, senior scientist at the Indian Council of Medical Research, Nivedia Gupta said there was no under-reporting of COVID-19 deaths in India.

"None of us thinks that there is gross under-reporting of COVID-19 deaths. If you look at the figures, India has been very good with reduction in mortality, as compared with other nations.

"A patient who comes to hospital and dies can be COVID-19 positive or negative and there are lot of factors which are responsible for death. It is not fair to attribute every death to COVID-19," Gupta said at a press conference.

She said states are doing a causality assessment and attributing the causes of death to COVID or non-COVID factors.

Joint Secretary in the health ministry Lav Agarwal also asserted there was 'no under reporting of COVID-19 deaths'.

"It is important for us to identify if the death is because of COVID-19 as we need to tackle the body with a different protocol," he said.

In terms of the number of deaths getting reported in the country and also even in different mortuaries, Agarwal said 'there was no abnormal increase in numbers rather they have gone down'.

"Let us feel reassured that the country is in safe hands and continued efforts are being done in the direction in terms of management of COVID-19," he said at the briefing.

Agarwal further said it is wrong to just look at the total number of cases and state that India has the seventh highest number of cases as the population of countries also should be taken into account.

About 14 most-affected countries with a cumulative population almost equal to that of India have reported 55.2 times more COVID-19 deaths and 22.5 times more cases, he said.

"Our COVID-19 fatality rate is 2.82 per cent as against 6.13 per cent globally. Our COVID-19 fatality rate is amongst the lowest in the world. We have been able to achieve this due to timely identification of cases and proper clinical management," Agarwal said.

He also said India's COVID-19 case fatality per lakh population is 0.41 as against 4.9 globally which is also amongst the lowest in the world, stating there are countries with a figure as high as 62.2 (Spain) and 82.9 (Belgium).

Presenting an age profile analysis of COVID-19 deaths, Agarwal said one in every two COVID-19 deaths in India has been of senior citizens who constitute 10 per cent of the total population.

These ten per cent of India's population accounts for 50 per cent of India's COVID-19 linked deaths while 73 per cent of COVID-19 deaths in the country are of people with comorbidities.

"Our analysis shows that people at high risk from COVID-19 are elderly people and those with co-morbidities," he said highlighting it was imperative that high-risk people take required preventive action and timely action based on medical advice in case they experience COVID-19 symptoms.

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