57 deaths added to Delhi’s toll on Sunday, govt issues notices to hospitals for late reporting
The Delhi government reported 57 more Covid-19 deaths on Sunday, taking the disease toll in the city to 473, as per the daily health bulletin.
Of the 57 deaths, 13 took place in city hospitals over 24 hours — the intervening day of May 29 and 30. The other 44 deaths recorded on Sunday were reported over 19 days, with the earliest of them dating April 5.
Delhi had reported a spike in the number of deaths on Friday as well, when 82 deaths had been added to the total in one go. Again, there had been a delay in the reporting of 69 of these deaths.
The backlog prompted the Delhi government to issue show-cause notices and memorandums to seven government hospitals on Sunday, asking why there had been a delay in reporting of deaths.
The government had said a delay in receiving paperwork from hospitals was to blame for the discrepancy in the number of deaths being recorded in the daily bulletin and those being reported by individual hospitals.
To ensure timely reporting, the city’s chief secretary Vijay Dev on May 10 had ordered hospitals to report Covid-19 deaths to the integrated disease surveillance programme each day by 5pm. Another order had been issued by the health department asking hospitals strictly to adhere by these standard operating procedures. Action can be taken against the hospitals under the Disaster Management Act that is currently in force.
The total 473 deaths till Sunday puts Delhi’s case fatality rate — the percentage of people who died among those who were diagnosed with the infection — at almost 2.4%, closer to the national rate of 2.8%.
On May 11, before the backlog cases started being added, the case fatality rate stood at 1%.
The Delhi government had set up a three-member death audit committee on April 20 to review the case sheets, investigations, and death summary before declaring any fatality as a Covid-19 death. The committee decides whether the Covid-19 is the primary cause of death or not.
“The death of any person with severe Covid-19 has to be considered a death due to the viral infection, no matter the modality of the death which can be a heart condition, respiratory failure or kidney failure. This is because the infection is new and every day we are learning its effects,” said Dr Shobha Broor, former head of the department of microbiology at AIIMS.
The hospitals that got notices and memorandums includes central government-run All India Institute of Medical Sciences, Safdarjung hospital, and Ram Manohar Lohia hospital all of which are designated for the treatment of Covid-19.
“There was no delay in reporting the deaths from AIIMS, we will be sending a reply to the notice along with evidence tomorrow,” said Dr DK Sharma, medical superintendent of AIIMS.
Notices were also issued to Delhi government-run dedicated Covid-19 hospitals --- Lok Nayak and Rajiv Gandhi Super speciality. Two other Delhi government-run hospitals -- Guru Teg Bahadur and Baba Saheb Ambedkar -- that currently do not treat Covid-19 patients were also issued memorandums. These hospitals treated Covid-19 patients between March 22 and April 18.
The Delhi government had initially designated parts of five hospitals – Lok Nayak and GB Pant, Rajiv Gandhi Super speciality, Baba Saheb Ambedkar, Guru Teg Bahadur, and Deen Dayal Upadhyay for the treatment of Covid-19 patients in March. A few days later, 2,000-bed Lok Nayak and 500-bed Rajiv Gandhi super speciality hospitals were entirely dedicated for the treatment of Covid-19 patients while the others were asked to focus on non-Covid-19 treatment.
Seeing the rising number of cases in the city, the Delhi government again on Saturday asked GTB hospital to dedicate all of its 1,500 beds for the treatment of Covid-19.
None of the private hospitals treating Covid-19 patients were given such notice by the government.