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Relentless cremation raises suspicions about India’s COVID deaths | News about the pandemic coronavirus

Gas and firewood furnaces at a crematorium in the state of Gujarat, western India, have been operating for so long during the COVID-19 pandemic that metal parts begin to melt.

Kamlesh Sailor, chairman of the trust fund that runs crematoriums in the diamond-polished city of Surat, told Reuters: “We’re working 24 hours a day at 100 percent capacity to cremate bodies on time. .

And with adequate hospitals, oxygen and medication deficiencies in an already shabby health system, some major cities are reporting much larger numbers of coronavirus cremations and burials than collection. The official COVID-19 death fee, according to cremator and cemetery staff, media and government data reviews.

India’s daily COVID-19 cases fell from a record on Tuesday but remained above the 200,000 mark for the sixth consecutive day, with the number of cases increasing by 259,170 in the past 24 hours.

Data from the Ministry of Health shows that the number of deaths caused by COVID-19 increased a record 1,761 to a total of 180,530.

Experts say reliable data is at the heart of any government response to the pandemic, without planning hospital vacancies, oxygen and medicine would be difficult. towel.

The mismatch in the death letter could be caused by a number of factors, including excessive caution, government officials said.

A senior state health official said the increase in cremation numbers was due to bodies cremated under COVID-19 “even if there was a 0.1% chance that the person was positive”.

“Many cases of patients hospitalized in extremely critical condition and died before testing, there are cases that lead to hospital death without us knowing whether positive or not,” the official said. .

People pray before burying coronavirus victims, at a graveyard in New Delhi [Danish Siddiqui/Reuters]

But Bhramar Mukherjee, professor of biological statistics and epidemiology at the University of Michigan, says many parts of India are in “data denial” status.

“Everything’s so muddy,” she said. “It felt like no one understood the situation clearly and it was annoying.”

In Surat, Gujarat’s second largest city, the Sailor Kurukshetra crematorium and a second crematorium called Umra cremated more than 100 bodies per day according to the COVID-19 procedure last week, outperforming The city’s official coronavirus mortality figure is approximately 25, according to interviews with workers.

Prashant Kabrawala, a trustee of the Narayan Trust, which manages a third city crematorium called Ashwinikumar, refused to provide the number of bodies received under virus protocols but said the number of exams. that has tripled in recent weeks.

“I have been to the crematorium regularly since 1987 and have been in its daily operation since 2005, but I have not seen so many corpses coming for cremation over the years,” even when the plague broke out in 1994 and floods in 2006.

A government spokesman in Gujarat did not respond to a request for comment.

Last week, Sandesh, a Gujarati newspaper, counted 63 bodies leaving a single COVID-19 hospital for burial in the state’s largest city, Ahmedabad, on a day when data for Government showed 20 deaths due to coronavirus.

India is not the only country with suspect coronavirus statistics. But workers’ testimony and a growing number of scholarly documents suggest that fewer deaths in India are being reported than in other countries.

Mukherjee’s study of the first wave in India concluded that the number of infections was 11 times more than what was reported, consistent with estimates from studies in other countries. There are also two to five times the number of deaths reported, well above the global average.

A relative leaned against a glass window at a crematorium, where a family member died of coronavirus prepared for cremation, in New Delhi [Anushree Fadnavis/Reuters]

In Lucknow, capital of the densely populated northern state of Uttar Pradesh, data from the largest coronavirus-only crematorium, Baikunth Dham, found that the number of bodies arriving on six different days in April was twice as much as the data. Government on the number of COVID-19 deaths of the entire city.

These figures do not take into account the second COVID-19 crematorium in the city or the burial sites in the Muslim community that make up a quarter of the city’s population.

Azad, the head of the crematorium, says the number of cremations under COVID-19 protocol has increased fivefold in recent weeks.

“We are working day and night,” he said. “The incinerators are operating at full capacity, but many people still have to wait for the body for the final rites.”

Government spokesman Uttar Pradesh did not respond to a request for comment.

In another development, India Today magazine reported two cremations in Bhopal, capital of the central state of Madhya Pradesh, 187 bodies were cremated according to COVID-19 procedure for four days this month, while The official death toll from coronavirus is 5 people.

The Lancet Medical Journal noted last year that four Indian states accounted for 65% of all COVID-19 deaths nationwide, each recording 100% of their coronavirus deaths.

But less than a quarter of deaths in India are medically certified, especially in rural areas, meaning COVID-19 mortality is actually in many of the 24 states. Another Indian may never be known.

“Most of the deaths were unregistered so it was impossible to calculate confirmations,” said Mukherjee.



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