A day after three municipal corporations claimed the COVID-19 death toll in Delhi stood at 2,098, nearly double the figure shared by the city government, Health Minister Satyendar Jain said "let them send us the details" of those dead.
"Every death count must have corresponding documents to back the death, otherwise they are just figures," Jain told reporters, adding, "If that is their claim, then let them send us the details, like age, medical history, test reports."
Citing the number of bodies that reached crematoriums and burial grounds, senior leaders of the BJP-led municipal corporations claimed that over 2,000 COVID-19 deaths have taken place in Delhi, while the official tally stood at 1,085 as reported on Thursday.
The Delhi government said on Thursday the COVID-19 death audit committee was "working impartially", and this was "not a time for blame-game but to work together".
Jain added that all COVID protocols were being followed during cremation or burial of people who died because of the virus or suspected to have died due to it.
But civic body leaders reiterated on Friday that the Delhi government was trying to either "hide death figures" or "revealing it late in piecemeal fashion" to "save its face".
Jai Prakash, chairman of the standing committee of the NDMC, claimed that the Arvind Kejriwal government previously too "reported fewer deaths".
"And now, as per these figures (form crematoriums and burial grounds), the number of deaths from COVID-19 in Delhi stands at 2,098 — SDMC (1,080), NDMC (976), EDMC (42)," Prakash said during a press conference on Thursday.
Asked about the high court's remark that Delhi was heading towards becoming the "corona capital" of the country, Jain said the coronavirus situation in Delhi needs to be "seen in context". It is the pandemic of the century, after the 1918 Spanish Flu, he said.
"To say, that cases are more here than there... Yes in some places it is far ahead of others, in some it is behind others," he said.
"Countries which saw the outbreak first, now cases have started to slow down there. It is spreading very fast. It is of the same family as the Spanish Flu virus. The most dangerous thing about the novel coronavirus is that it spreads very fast," Jain said.
The high court has expressed concern over the spike in COVID-19 cases. It has ordered that all private hospitals equipped with labs and having ICMR sanction to test for the virus be permitted to conduct the test.
Delhi recorded 1,877 fresh coronavirus cases on Thursday, its highest single-day spike, taking the COVID-19 tally in the city to over 34,000-mark, and the death toll due to the disease mounted to 1,085, authorities said.