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Disappearing dead: Govt, media got no of dengue deaths in Delhi wrong

As panic rises, the standard response of authorities is to pretend that the problem does not exist

A Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) employee fumigates near Hindu Rao Hospital in New Delhi. Photo: PTI
A Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) employee fumigates near Hindu Rao Hospital in New Delhi. Photo: PTI

In 2015, the media reported, quoting surveillance data, that dengue fever–caused by a virus transmitted by mosquito bite–killed 60 people in Delhi. However, government of Delhi data on medically certified deaths–largely unknown to the media–reveal the dengue death toll to be 486, or eight times the media estimate. It is now apparent that both figures are underestimates because even the mortality data source–listed under what is called Report on Medical Certification of Cause of Death–is confined to 62.7% of registered deaths in hospital ...