Difference in Covid-19 case count: Maharashtra government and BMC blame systemUpdated: Apr 28, 2020 23:42 IST
An anomaly in the cumulative and daily counts of confirmed Covid-19 cases in Mumbai, collocated separately by the state health department and the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), has raised several questions about data discrepancy.
The BMC is out of sync with the state health department over data on Covid-19 infections in the city but has claimed that this is due to 851 duplications of names in the count. The discrepancy has been evident since the day the state and city agencies started releasing Covid-19 data.
For instance, the state health department on Monday said the number of infections rose to 5,776 in Mumbai, however, the BMC recorded 5,589 cases during the same period.
Civic officials have attributed the discrepancy to the system adopted by private laboratories which have been permitted to conduct tests on suspected Covid-19 patients. Private laboratories report their numbers to the India Council of Medical Research (ICMR) following which the BMC adds them to its tally.
The state government receives the private lab data from ICMR but also gets BMC’s count. This often leads to duplication while collating the data, say civic officials.
The civic body is now planning to reduce the city’s Covid-19 count, stating that it has detected dual entries in the case of 851 patients.
Mumbai municipal commissioner Praveen Pardeshi said, “Duplication of names is one of the reasons behind the confusion over data. By Monday (April 27) we identified 851 duplicate names on the list of Covid-19 positive patients. Now the process of identification and elimination of duplicate names is on. After readjustment of data, the city’s final count will be reduced.”
He added that he had discussed the issue with concerned authorities and assured that the collation system will be streamlined within the next two days.
Another senior civic official said private labs were to blame as they delayed submission of reports. “Recently, the BMC served a show-cause notice to one of the private labs for the delay in submission of reports on samples of coronavirus cases tested. Many times, cases tested earlier by private labs were added to the fresh lot, which led to data discrepancies,” the official said.
As per officials from the state health department, numbers are reported only after coordinating with municipal corporations and receiving ground-level confirmation from districts. “We collect daily information from respective districts, municipal authorities, and private laboratories by 2pm, as we have to process the data. Cases detected after 2pm are added to the tally the next day. There were some discrepancies,” said Dr Pradeep Awate, state surveillance officer.
The discrepancy between the health ministry and BMC data can be resolved by following a uniform data capturing method. Considering this, the state health department has decided to collect data from ICMR’s website. “Now we have decided to follow data on ICMR’s website as a base and after processing. After minimising duplication we will declare the data on a daily basis,” said Anup Kumar Yadav, commissioner, National Health Mission.