Don't test the dead for COVID-19, Kejriwal govt tells hospitals; decision comes amid BJP allegations that Delhi is 'under-reporting' fatalities

From 14 May, the Delhi government has also not been releasing hospital-wise data on coronavirus-related deaths in its daily bulletin.

FP Staff May 18, 2020 18:06:23 IST
Don't test the dead for COVID-19, Kejriwal govt tells hospitals; decision comes amid BJP allegations that Delhi is 'under-reporting' fatalities

The Delhi government on Sunday issued a 'revised order' telling hospitals not to take samples from the deceased who exhibited symptoms of coronavirus. The decision comes amid allegations by the BJP that the Arvind Kejriwal government may have under-reported deaths due to COVID-19.

The Indian Express quoted the order, issued by Delhi health secretary Padmini Singla, as saying, "No sample for COVID-19 test will be taken of dead body. However, if doctors are satisfied from clinical examination that the cause of death may be COVID-19 infection, the dead body may be released as suspect COVID-19 infected dead body."

However, protocols issued by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) will have to be followed not just for deaths that were confirmed to have been due to COVID-19, but also for deaths due to suspected COVID-19.

Dont test the dead for COVID19 Kejriwal govt tells hospitals decision comes amid BJP allegations that Delhi is underreporting fatalities

Representational image. AP

The Hindu quoted a Delhi government spokesperson as saying that other states are also not testing people for the virus. "Many times, families were insisting for COVID-19 testing of dead bodies before cremation, even if a person died at home as they were scared,” the spokesperson told the newspaper.

However, there have been several instances of people testing positive for coronavirus after death (see here and here).

From 14 May, the Delhi government has also not been releasing hospital-wise data on coronavirus-related deaths in its daily bulletin. It has stated that the number of deaths sent by hospitals is being audited, and the data will be updated once the process is complete.

On 15 April, the Delhi government had also stopped stopped providing details of "under investigation cases", or cases in which it is not known how a patient got infected by coronavirus. This would help to assess whether there is community transmission in a particular area.

BJP slams Delhi govt's 'under-reporting'

Delhi BJP president Manoj Tiwari on Saturday had expressed concern over reports of "under-reporting" of deaths due to COVID-19 in Delhi and asked Kejriwal to clear the air about it.

"It's a matter of extreme shame that the Delhi government is reportedly underreporting the figures of death due to Covid-19 to hide its failure. This is not the time to indulge in politics over a matter of public health," Tiwari said.

With inputs from PTI

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