Clarity eludes Kerala’s daily Covid death numbers tally

Sajeev Kumar | | Updated on: Nov 26, 2021
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Kerala reported 384 of the country’s total toll of 488 deaths, for the 24 hours up to Friday morning.

As Kerala reconciles its mortality numbers, every day for the last several days, there seems to be little clarity offered by the administration on the reasons behind this.

Kerala’s Health Ministry remains tight-lipped over the death analysis report from the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) on reporting Covid deaths in less than a transparent manner.

The allegations are that the State was not declaring all Covid-19 deaths or including all deaths of Covid-positive persons on its official list of deaths, from the early days of the pandemic.

According to reports, the State’s case fatality rate has now gone up from 0.3 per cent to 0.73 per cent and the State has failed to offer an explanation for the inconsistencies in death reporting,data gaps and disparities in Covid mortality rate between districts.

Also see: India reports 10,549 Covid cases on Nov 26 with 488 deaths

Calls from BusinessLine to State Health Minister, Veena George, and to Health Secretary seeking details on the issue remained unanswered, despite repeated attempts.

According to MoHFW data, Kerala reported 384 (including 328 reconciliations) of the country’s total toll of 488 deaths, for the 24 hours up to Friday morning.

Medical experts, on condition of anonymity, pointed out, there was a mechanism by a central committee to report Covid deaths with the available records. And this led to under-reporting of Covid deaths.

‘Convincing doctors’

If a person succumbed to Covid, the reasons should be convincing to the treating doctor and the Committee to declare Covid deaths. However, the central committee was not able to scruitinise the total number of deaths in the entire State and it led to variation of numbers from district to district. This was happening in the initial one year.

Following protests, the Government dismantled the central committee and treating doctors were given the powers to declare Covid deaths. This has led to real-time reporting of Covid deaths in the State.

Later, the Central government modified the criteria of Covid deaths following the Supreme Court ruling that any death of person infected within 30 days should be considered as Covid deaths. Thus, there was a huge backlog of cases in the State because of the initial system. The reporting of death online from private hospitals has also added to the numbers and the process is still continuing including the backlog of cases to the list of death to avail compensation, experts pointed out.

Moreover, the announcement of the State government in the Assembly to relook at all the suspected cases of Covid deaths based on the new policy and to pay compensation for all eligible deaths is also adding to the number of deaths on a daily basis, medical experts said.

Published on November 26, 2021

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