Health professionals have accused India of hiding the true number of Covid-19 deaths across the country as it deals with a “tsunami” of new infections.
On Sunday, India recorded the highest daily increase in Covid cases in the world, with 352,991 new infections. Its second wave is showing no signs of stopping – with 323,023 cases and 2771 deaths officially recorded on Tuesday.
Infections in India’s rural areas are expected to soar as migrant workers flee cities for their home villages – some taking the virus with them.
However, there are fears India’s already appalling Covid statistics could be much worse than what is being officially reported.
Scientists have been using serology surveys to get a more accurate measure of infection rates, with a previous national survey showing the number of cases in India is likely “20 to 30 times higher than what had been reported”, according to CNN.
Applying this to India’s latest figures raises the estimated total infections for the country to 529 million cases – more than half a billion infections.
University of Michigan epidemiologist Bhramar Mukherjee labelled the Covid-19 figures coming out of India a “complete massacre of data”, telling the New York Times that the true number of deaths is also believed to be vastly underreported.
Crematoriums across the country are overflowing, with some forced to build makeshift facilities in parking lots.
There have been multiple reports of discrepancies in the numbers being reported by crematoriums and the number of cremations actually taking place.
On April 17, the state of Gujarat claimed 78 Covid-19 deaths, but newspapers reported 689 cremations linked to the virus took place across seven of the state’s cities that same day.
Similar complaints have also surfaced in Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh.
Suresh Bhai, a worker at one of the large cremation grounds in Ahmedabad, Gujarat, told the New York Times he had been instructed by his bosses to write “sickness” instead of Covid-19 on the documentation handed over to families of victims.
New Zealand's response
New Zealand’s ban on travel from India lifts at midnight tonight, but new travel rules then come into force that mean only New Zealand citizens and their parents, partners and children will be able to come home from four high-risk countries – India, Brazil, Pakistan and Papua New Guinea.
Permanent New Zealand residents will not be able to travel directly here from those nations.
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