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Kerala reports 10 per cent less deaths in Covid year

TV Jayan New Delhi | Updated on February 03, 2021

In what could come across as a big surprise, Kerala seemed to have witnessed a 10 per cent drop, or over 26,500 lesser number of deaths, in the Covid-19 pandemic year as compared to the year before.

According to Civil Registration System (CRS) data available with the State Local Government Department, all-cause-mortality deaths in Kerala were 2,37,407, around 10 per cent lower than 2,63,983 deaths reported in 2019. Interestingly, this was the lowest number of crude deaths reported in the State since 2015, which reported a total of 2,36,808 deaths.

Even though Kerala is one of the worst Covid-affected States in the country with over 9.4 lakh confirmed cases, the number of reported Covid deaths in the State was 3,776, or a 0.4 per cent mortility which is the lowest in the country, as of Wednesday.

“This is not surprising and it is in the expected range. There could be several reasons for this. As compared to other States, mortality due to Covid-19 was low in Kerala (even if there is some under reporting as suggested by some). Besides, there is a considerably less number of deaths in road accidents. Moreover, mortality from many respiratory related diseases such as COPD and pneumonia came down due to a relatively higher number of hospitalisation due to Covid,” said K P Aravindan, a retired professor of pathology at the Kozhikode Medical College.

According to data released by Kerala Police, the number of deaths in road accidents in 2020 was 2,979 as against 4,440 deaths reported in 2019. “This was mainly due to lockdown,” Aravindan said.

A technical paper released by the Kerala government said the crude death rate in the State came down to 6.8 per cent 1,000 population as compared to 7.5 per 1,000 population in 2019. In comparison in the US and Italy, two countries ravaged by the pandemic, the crude death rate increased substantially during this period. While the crude death rate in the US in 2020 was 9.72 per 1,000 in 2020 as against 8.81 per 1,000 in 2019, that in Italy was 15.71 in 2020 as compared to 14.47 per 1,000 in 2019.

“In Kerala, there might be a delay in registration of vital events and some more deaths might get reported in 2020, but it has to be noted that 92 per cent of births have been registered in the vital registration system in 2020 as compared to 2019, so it reflects the left-out portion will be minimal,” the government note said.

According to V Ramankutty, a well-known public health expert and Research Director at the Amala Cancer Research Centre at Thrissur, the credit also goes to the public health care system in the State. “Anyone living in Kerala has very good access to health care facilities. Besides, since the movement of people was restricted during the lockdown period, their chances of contracting other infectious diseases , particularly by vulnerable people, would have also come down significantly,” Ramankutty said.

Aravindan hoped that similar crude death rates will be available from other States so that there can be a realistic picture of how many Covid-19 deaths have occurred in the country.

Published on February 03, 2021

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