According to Chennai Corporation data, the city had registered 17,326 deaths from April to June in 2019, whereas 16,602 people died during the same period in 2020. Of the total deaths during the period, most of which were caused due to various reasons, including accidents, natural causes and crimes, 1,342 were victims of COVID-19.
The data also showed a lesser number of deaths in April and May in 2020, but the tally went up by 2,000 in June. In April this year, 4,216 deaths were recorded of which only 21 were COVID-19 victims. In May, 5,218 people died of which 297 were coronavirus victims. Meanwhile, June recorded the highest number of deaths at 7,168, including 1,028 COVID victims.
During the same months in 2019, Chennai had registered 5,552 deaths in April and 6,544 and 5,230 deaths in May and June respectively. The data also said that out of 2,092 people who succumbed to the virus, 750 had died in July. This shows that maximum COVID deaths happened in June.
The city went under a complete lockdown for 15 days from June 19 which should have automatically brought down the number of unnatural deaths like accidents and those caused due to crimes, but, on the contrary, 6,144 deaths, excluding 1,028 virus deaths, were reported in June. However, the number is much higher compared to the same period in 2019.
When asked about the unnaturally high deaths despite the shutdown, Chennai Corporation Commissioner G Prakash said COVID deaths had contributed to the increase in the overall toll in June. “Other reasons will be analysed,” he added.
Dr Prabhdeep Kaur, deputy director, National Institute of Epidemiology, had recently tweeted that the World Health Organisation (WHO) recommended rapid mortality surveillance be established to estimate the real impact of COVID-19. “Count all deaths and compare them with the previous year’s mortality data for the same weeks,” she had emphasised.