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The number of people cremated or buried at dedicated COVID crematoriums or graveyards from April 20 to May 2 is over one and a half times the number of coronavirus deaths reported by the Uttarakhand Health Department, official data revealed. According to the Urban Development Department, 1,523 “COVID-infected people” were cremated or buried during those 13 days, whereas the number of fatalities reported by the state Health Department during the period was 910. This is 613 less than the number of cremations and burials recorded by the Urban Development Department.

As per the guidelines, people who succumb to the virus are supposed to be cremated or buried at COVID-dedicated crematoriums and graveyards. The discrepancy came to light when the number of bodies buried or cremated at the COVID-dedicated crematoriums and graveyards during the period as mentioned in a letter of Urban Development Secretary Vinod Kumar Suman to the additional chief secretary was compared with the death toll reported by the Directorate of Medical Health and Family Welfare.

When contacted, officials did not have a clear explanation to offer for the wide numerical gap between the two figures. A Dehradun Municipal Corporation official requesting anonymity said, “A number of COVID patients die in home isolation and many such deaths go unreported. This may have led to the two figures not tallying with each other.” With 33 COVID deaths per lakh population, Uttarakhand has the highest pandemic fatality rate among the Himalayan states.

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