Recount shows under-reporting of Covid deaths in Bihar; total toll around 9,300

Express News Service
PATNA: It has been officially confirmed that the districts in Bihar were not doing accurate reporting of Covid-19 deaths during the second wave of the pandemic. In a verification drive launched by the state government on May 18, it was found that 3,951 deaths had not been recorded in previous fatality reports.

Till June 7, the state’s total count of Covid-19 deaths was 5,424. After revision, the tally went up to 9,375 on June 8. The highest number of ‘unreported’ deaths 1,069 is from Patna. Now, this district’s total has risen to 2,293 from 1,229.

The verification was done following a directive from CM Nitish Kumar, who wanted the right figures to ensure payment of ex-gratia to the kin of the deceased. Teams of civil surgeons, Additional Chief Medical Officers and senior medical officers from the district level were formed. Principals, superintendents and heads of departments of medical colleges were also part of the teams.

The state government has announced ex-gratia of Rs 4 lakh to the next kin of each of those who died due to Covid and sanctioned Rs 300 crore for this. 

​“Bihar is the first state in country that has carried out such an intensive verification exercise, taking suo motu cognizance of deaths due to Covid with an aim to provide ex-gratia to the next kin of all those who died,” said Pratyay Amrit, Additional Chief Secretary of the health department.

Previous reports filed by almost all the districts were inaccurate. After Patna, 316 new Covid deaths were reported from Begusarai, 314 from Muzaffarpur, 291 from East Champaran, 222 from Nalanda, 162 from Madhubani, 150 from Darbhanaga,122 from Rohtas, 102 from Kaimur and 97 from Buxar, where 75 unidentified bodies were floating in the Ganga.

Amrit confirmed the revised death tally is 9,375 and that the government will soon make the payments. He added that these deaths were verified after talking to people and other sources, which were confirmed by the teams of officials. 

Asked whose fault it was when deaths were under-reported, Amrit said: “The department is trying to find out whose fault it was. Proper action will be taken after we ascertain the facts.” Principal opposition party RJD attacked the NDA government in the state, saying they had been frequently doubting that the actual number of Covid deaths had not been revealed. 

“Now, it has been exposed how the NDA government was not reporting deaths accurately,” said Mritunjay Tiwari, the RJD spokesperso. He claimed RJD knew that deaths were being under-reported.