Non-covid deaths higher in 2020 despite drop in road fatalities
The year 2020 was a pandemic year for Pune with Covid claiming over 4,600 deaths, however, the tally of non-Covid deaths were still higher compared to the previous two years.
The fatalities in road accidents were lower as the city remained under restrictions for a large period of the year.
In 2020, a total of 33,581 persons died in Pune due to non-Covid reasons while Coronavirus that causes Covid claimed 4,613 lives, taking the overall tally to 38,194, according to statistics released by the birth and death registration department of the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC).
In comparison, 2019 saw 32,353 deaths in Pune due to various reasons while in 2018 a total of 31,570 people lost their lives.
Experts suggest that during the lockdown, many patients could not visit hospitals and doctors failed to keep a track of comorbidities which worsened their situation and resulted in deaths.
Dr Avinash Bhondwe, president of the Indian Medical Association, Maharashtra state while speaking on the high numbers for 2020, said that due to lockdown last year, many patients avoided consulting doctors.
“Many patients with comorbidities could not meet the doctor to test themselves regularly. Due to transport restrictions, many could not visit doctors as well. The high-risk patients stayed indoors without regular follow up which worsened the conditions of many and resulted in fatalities,” said Dr Bhondwe.
He also added that as Covid cases increased last year, doctors were instructed to accommodate only patients with serious issues.
Vivek Velankar, a city-based activist said that last year, not many patients could come to Pune city for treatment due to the lockdown while at the same time lockdown kept most in their homes, a reason for a drop in death count in 2020.
“As there were travel restrictions, there were almost no road fatalities. This was a good sign but many patients who regularly visited Pune for treatment could not come to the city. This has increased complications in many patients,” said Velankar.
As per data shared by Pune police, as many as 143 two-wheelers and pillion riders lost their lives in 2020 compared to 206 two-wheeler and pillion riders who died in 2019.
Due to lockdown, there was a spike in cases of distress call received by the Connecting Trust, an NGO that works in suicide prevention.
“There has been an increase in distress calls. The top three reasons for distress were relationship issues, unemployment and dealing with mental health issues. We also saw an increase in distress emails. We received distressed emails as well during the lockdown. The emails increased to 20 distress emails every month during the first few months of the lockdown. This could be because confidentiality could have been an issue at the time. The idea is for people to know that they are not alone. Emotional support is available whether it is a call or an email,” said Liyaan Sataravala, CEO of Connecting Trust.
Dr Kalpana Baliwant, spokesperson and assistant chief of the health department, PMC said that the data reflects people who died in PMC limits.
“Many patients were unable to travel to Pune for treatment. Also, deaths from outside Pune are not reflected in the PMC numbers,” said Dr Baliwant.
Year--Male--Female--Total-- Due to Covid
*Source: Health department, PMC
Road Fatalities (two-wheeler riders and pillion)
2020: 143 deaths
2019: 206 deaths
2018: 193 deaths
2017: 212 deaths