India’s Covid-19 death tally surged by a record 6,148 fatalities on Thursday as the eastern Bihar state reported numbers roughly 72% higher than its previous recorded toll, confirming speculation that the devastation in the Asian nation has been far worse than official data show.
Bihar’s Health Department on Wednesday said Covid-19 had killed 9,429 people in the Indian state, nearly double its previous count. Authorities didn’t specify when the deaths occurred.
Patna district, which houses the capital city, reported the highest number of deaths at 862, according to a statement posted on the government’s Twitter account. The Patna High Court last month expressed concern about inconsistency in the death toll presented by government officials in separate affidavits, the Hindu newspaper reported.
Experts believe that India’s case and fatality figures are vastly under-counted, especially in rural areas where record keeping is patchy. Data revisions throughout the pandemic has also been relatively common, with places from the U.S. to Spain, China and Turkey adjusting their numbers for reasons such as hospital lags in reporting and people dying at home before being diagnosed with Covid-19.
Peru last week more than doubled its death toll, and India’s financial hub Mumbai raised its tally last year citing technical glitches in recording data.
India has reported nearly 20 million Covid cases thus far in 2021, compared with 10.3 million last year, driven by the delta variant that’s more transmissible than other new strains. It’s been linked to more severe symptoms and a higher risk of hospitalization.
While daily new infections and deaths have fallen from their peaks, India is still struggling to curb the spread of the virus and accelerate the pace of vaccination to guard against a next wave.