Confusion prevailed over the number of deaths due to coronavirus in the national capital, with data from four hospitals showing that 92 people succumbed to the infection as against 68 fatalities reported by the Delhi government.
The toll of 68 shared by the Delhi government in its health bulletin on Friday is based on data collected from 10 hospitals, including AIIMS, Safdarjung Hospital, Ram Manohar Lohia (RML) Hospital and Lady Hardinge Medical College.
According to the bulletin, AIIMS (Delhi and Jhajjar) reported two deaths, Safdarjung Hospital reported four, RML 26 and Lady Hardinge Medical College had none till Friday.
However, officials from these hospitals said the number of people who died due to coronavirus in the national capital till Friday is higher than that reflected in the Delhi government's bulletin.
AIIMS (Delhi Trauma Centre and Jhajjar) has recorded a total of 14 deaths, an official said.
According to All India Institute Of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) Medical Superintendent Dr D K Sharma, the discrepancy could be because the government is only counting the fatalities from the Trauma Centre, which has been converted into a dedicated COVID-19 hospital, and has not taken into account data from the Jhajjar facility.
At Safdarjung Hospital, 23 people have died due to COVID-19.
"They (government) are calling us for the data. We have told them we are regularly sending you the correct, updated figures. We don't see any reason why wrong figures are being reflected," said a senior doctor at Safdarjung Hospital who did not want to be named.
RML Hospital has reported 52 deaths of COVID-19 patients.
"We are providing them (government) data regularly and correctly. It is up to them to incorporate it in their chart. We do not understand why they are showing incorrect figures," RML Medical Superintendent Minakshi Bhardwaj said.
Lady Hardinge Medical College Director Dr N N Mathur said the hospital has given the government a figure of three deaths.
As the Delhi government came under attack over "under-reporting" of coronavirus deaths, Delhi Health Minister Satyendar Jain asserted that the government is not hiding data.
"If we had to hide data, we wouldn't have released Thursday's number of fresh COVID-19 cases which was the highest single-day spike of 448 cases. We would have said there were only 48 new cases, but we did not. Once the reports come, the hospitals have to inform the government immediately," he had told reporters.
The minister said the hospitals have not sent detailed death reports of patients which have information such reason of death, name, age and other things, and on the basis of which the COVID-19 health bulletin is updated.
He said the health department has asked the hospitals to send the death reports and summaries at the earliest, so that the data can be promptly added to the bulletin.
Meanwhile, the health department also synchronised the 24-hr time cycle for the daily bulletin on COVID-19 cases with that of Indian Council of Medical Research, an official said. Earlier, the health department was following a 24-hr time cycle beginning from 4 PM daily. It will now be from 12 midnight.
Coming down heavily on the AAP government, Congress leader Ajay Maken asked it "to be more transparent" in reporting cases of the novel coronavirus.
He said it was a "matter of shame" that the national capital was witnessing "a sorry state of affairs" in the fight against the pandemic.
Expressing concern over the matter, Delhi BJP president Manoj Tiwari said the chief minister should clear the air about the situation.
"The reports of under-reporting of coronavirus deaths area a matter of concern. It is extremely shameful that to hide its failures, the Delhi government is reportedly hiding the figures of death due to COVID-19. This is not the time to indulge in politics," Tiwari said.
"Delhi people have a right to know about the severity of the epidemic and the Kejriwal government should at least tell them the truth," he said.