Mystery of India’s lower death rates seems to defy coronavirus trend

Reuters:

While death rates in some countries have risen sharply in recent weeks, in India the opposite seems to be happening, at least in some places, leaving hospitals, funeral parlours and cremation sites wondering what is going on.

Parts of India have recorded dramatic falls in mortality rates after a nationwide lockdown was imposed to fight the new coronavirus, suggesting there has not been an undetected surge in virus-related deaths.

All over the world, mortality rates are being scrutinised to determine the true impact of the coronavirus, which emerged in China late last year and is known to have infected more than 2.7 million people globally, with nearly 190,000 deaths.

While death rates in some countries have risen sharply in recent weeks, in India the opposite seems to be happening, at least in some places, leaving hospitals, funeral parlours and cremation sites wondering what is going on.

“It’s very surprising for us,” said Shruthi Reddy, chief executive officer of Anthyesti Funeral Services, which operates in the eastern city of Kolkata and the southern tech hub of Bengaluru.

The company handled about five jobs a day in January but has only had about three a day this month.

“We’ve declared employee pay cuts if revenue falls below a threshold,” Reddy said.

Other numbers tell a similar story.

Central Mumbai, home to some 12 million people, saw deaths fall by about 21% in March compared with the same month of 2019, according to municipal data.

Overall deaths plummeted 67% in Ahmedabad, the biggest city in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s home state of Gujarat, over the same period.

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