The Delhi government on Sunday sought to blame hospitals for the mismatch of COVID-19 death data and issued guidelines to report such fatalities in a timely manner, even as Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal asserted that the number of serious patients and deaths caused by the infection is "less" in the city.
With 381 fresh cases, the total no of infections climbed to 6,923 in the national capital. Between midnight of May 8 and midnight of May 9, five fresh fatalities due to the virus were reported, taking the death toll to 73, the city government said in its health bulletin.
A woman contract teacher of a North Delhi Municipal Corporation-run school and her husband were among the deceased, officials said on Sunday.
The woman was hospitalised on May 2 and died on May 4. Her COVID-19 test report came positive on May 5. Her husband succumbed to the disease on May 3.
"The teacher had last come to work on April 18. She was supposed to come to work again on April 25 but didn't. The couple has two sons. Their home has been sanitised twice," an NDMC official said.
The Delhi government has faced flak over the last few days after the number of deaths reported by hospitals was higher than the figure released in its health bulletin.
In an order on Sunday, Chief Secretary Vijay Dev said it has come to the notice of the government that public and private hospitals (both COVID-19 dedicated and non COVID-19 hospitals) are not reporting deaths caused by the virus in a timely and regular manner.
It has also been observed that despite repeated reminders, the death summaries of the deceased are not being provided to the death audit committee leading to submission of "incorrect or delayed reports", the order said.
Officials of the 10 hospitals treating COVID-19 patients have said the number of people who have died due to the virus is higher than what the Delhi government bulletin reflects.
"Every COVID-19 hospital and other health facilities will appoint nodal officers who will ensure timely communication of deaths. MS (medical superintendent)/MD (medical director)/Directors of all concerned hospitals will ensure this on a daily basis without fail," Dev said in the order.
If there is a delay in reporting of deaths, the MS, MD or nodal officer of the 'defaulter hospital' will have to file a written explanation, the official order said.
"Even if no death has happened, even then a NIL report shall be furnished by email to IDSP Cell for the compilation of death data," Dev said.
Addressing an online media briefing, Kejriwal said that 75 per cent of COVID-19 cases in the city are asymptomatic or showing mild symptoms.
"The number of serious patients is less. The number of COVID-19 deaths is very less," he said.
He said those asymptomatic or showing mild symptoms need not be admitted to hospitals and can be provided treatment at home.
On Saturday, Congress leader Ajay Maken sought more transparency from the Kejriwal government on the coronavirus deaths and Delhi BJP chief Manoj Tiwari urged the chief minister to "tell the truth", saying people have a right to know about the severity of the outbreak.
Kejriwal said Delhi has reported 6,923 coronavirus cases, out of which 2,069 have recovered, while 91 patients are in ICU and 27 are on ventilator support.
It has been observed that 82 per cent of people who died were above the age of 50, Kejriwal said, requesting senior citizens to take precautionary measures against the infection.
"Out of 6,923 COVID-19 patients, only 1,476 are admitted to hospitals," he said, adding that the rest are getting treatment at their homes and COVID-19 care centres.
He also appealed to migrant workers not to leave the city, saying the situation will revive once the lockdown is lifted and they will find work.
Police had detected nearly 100 migrants hiding inside two trucks in a desperate bid to reach home in Bihar, and arrested the drivers near southeast Delhi's Kalindi Kunj on Saturday night.
One of the trucks had 63 migrants and the other was carrying 34. They were going to Lakhisarai and Madhubani districts, the police said.
The chief minister urged the workers trying to leave the national capital to stay wherever they were, assuring them that his government was arranging trains for their return.
"This lockdown is going to end soon, and everything will be back on track. You will get employed again because everything will start running again. Please do not leave Delhi," Kejriwal said.
Around 150 migrants from Punjab, who were sheltered at a Delhi government facility in Nehru Vihar, left for their native state on Sunday morning.
Under quarantine in Uttar Pradesh's Deoband for more than 40 days, a group of nine Tablighi Jamaat members from Delhi have urged Kejriwal to facilitate their return home following the Saharanpur administration's nod to release them upon completion of requisite quarantine period.
Meanwhile, the gurdwaras in the national capital are facing shortage of ration and cash following a steep rise in the number of homeless people being fed amid the ongoing lockdown, according to Delhi Sikh Gurudwara Management Committee.
Since the imposition of the countrywide lockdown on March 25 to stave off the spread of coronavirus, the DSGMC-managed gurdwaras across the city have provided free meals to around 50 lakh homeless people, migrant workers and elderly.
Some of the gurdwaras have also provided shelter to around 200 health staff, including doctors and nurses, besides taking care of coronavirus positive patients in various hospitals.
The Delhi Police relieved 781 calls on its helpline within a period of 24 hours till Sunday afternoon and 394 of these were regarding movement passes, officials said here.
A total of 41,788 calls have been received by the city police so far on its 24x7 helpline number 011-23469526 for assistance in resolving issues being faced by the people due to the lockdown, they said.
Police received 781 calls from 2 pm on Saturday till 2 pm on Sunday, the officials said.