Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami.
Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami.

Chennai: A day after reports emerged hinting at the likelihood of COVID-19 death numbers being fudged in Chennai, the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister, Edappadi K Palaniswami, denied the charge.

Insisting that the death figures were not being underreported, Palaniswami told journalists in his native Salem district, “There is nothing to hide on the deaths. It cannot be covered up, either.”

Contending that the state stood to gain nothing by fudging the death number during a pandemic, he said, COVID-19 fatalities cannot be kept under wraps. “Today if someone dies of coronavirus disease, everyone would come to know of it. Statistics on the deaths reported in government and private hospitals are diligently collated and reported,” the Chief Minister insisted.

There were reports that the Directorate of Public Health during an inspection found half the COVID-19 deaths in Chennai – a coronavirus hotspot – not being reported in the final death tally. The team had called for reconciliation of records based on the data maintained at the burial grounds in the city.

“The Health Department is transparently sharing details of the tests conducting and those who tested positive for COVID-19 and the deaths on a daily basis,” Palaniswami said, adding, there is no community transmission in the state.

With the State reporting more cases – on Thursday it had 1,875 cases taking the total tally to 38,716 – the Chief Minister also indicated that places of worship will not be opened soon. He argued that in States like Kerala, which had reopened religious pla­ces, there were voices emerging seeking their closure.

Why can’t Chennai alone be under lockdown: HC to govt

Observing that the COVID-19 situation in the city and its suburbs is alarming in view of rising cases, the Madras High Court asked the state government why can’t complete lockdown be implemented for some time to contain the virus’s spread.

Despite the steps by the state government to contain the Covid spread, everyday the number of cases is “steeply rising and the situation has become alarming” particularly in the metropolis and its outskirts, a bench of justices Vineet Kothari and R Suresh Kumar said.

“Therefore, we want to know whether the government has devised any special scheme, which includes complete lockdown or curfew to contain the spread in Chennai and surrounding areas for sometime,” the judges asked state government pleader V Jayaprakash Narayan during the virtual court proceedings after concluding listed cases.

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