The death toll due to coronavirus in India saw a massive jump on Thursday, June 10, after the Bihar health department revised the toll in the state. Bihar has substantially increased its COVID-19 death toll, adding to suspicions that India's total death toll is notably higher than the official total. India saw 6,148 deaths, the highest single-day toll so far.
During a terrible second wave of coronavirus in India in April and May, hospitals ran out of beds and life-saving oxygen, and people died in parking lots outside hospitals and in their homes.
According to doctors and health professionals, many of these fatalities were not reported in COVID-19 tally sheets.
According to health ministry data, India has the second-highest number of COVID-19 infections in the world, following the United States, with 29.2 million cases and 359,676 fatalities.
However, the revelation of thousands of unreported deaths in the state of Bihar has sparked concerns that many more coronavirus victims are not being counted.
The COVID-19-related death toll in Bihar, which is one of India's poorest states, has increased to more than 9,429 from roughly 5,424 on Wednesday, June 9, according to the state's health department.
The newly reported fatalities happened last month, and state officials were investigating the lapse, according to a district health official, who blamed private institutions for the error.
"These deaths occurred 15 days ago and were only uploaded now in the government portal. Action will be taken against some of the private hospitals," said an official, who declined to be identified as he is not authorized to speak to the media, reported Reuters.
Both coronavirus infections and deaths are likely being undercounted across the country, according to health experts, in part because diagnostic facilities are scarce in rural regions, where two-thirds of Indians reside, and hospitals are few and far between.
Many families have been forced to dump bodies of their loved ones in the sacred Ganges river or bury them in shallow graves on its sandbanks as crematoriums struggled to cope with the influx of fatalities during the last two months.
Under-reporting is a widespread problem, not necessarily deliberate, often because of inadequacies," Rajib Dasgupta, head of the Centre of Social Medicine and Community Health at New Delhi's Jawaharlal Nehru University, told Reuters.
"In the rural context, whatever states may say or claim, testing is not simple, easy or accessible," he added.
After a spike in mid-March, India's cases and deaths have slowly decreased in recent weeks.
The Congress party, on the other hand, recommended that other states should undertake a review of fatalities in the previous two months.
"This proves beyond a doubt government has been hiding COVID deaths, " said Shama Mohamed, a Congress spokesman, adding that audits should be undertaken in the states of Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat.