With unmasked new death numbers, Kerala reconciles itself to Covid facts on ground

Our Bureau Thiruvananthapuram | Updated on October 26, 2021

No attempts to underplay the death rate: Minister

Covid-battered Kerala has taken a cue from others States to reconcile the death toll with the unreported or under-reported ones after initiating a review of the processes and procedures used so far to certify and take them on record.

The State government created a flutter earlier this month when it said that it would soon add a backlog of 7,000 Covid-19 deaths that may have previously gone unreported or misreported even as it continues to log daily new cases.

Disaggregated death data

The Health Minister had announced in the State Assembly that these uncounted deaths had occurred before hospitals started uploading data of such fatalities online before June this year.

The State Health Department is now giving a disaggregated data on daily new death cases being reported along with the number being added to the cumulative toll from what is described as backlog of unreported cases during the period between March 2020 and June 2021.

On Tuesday, the State reported 7,163 new infections from the 79,122 samples tested with 6,960 recoveries. Size of the active case pool as on date is 74,456, for long continued to be the highest in the country, of which, only 10 per cent is now admitted in hospitals, offering some consolation.

New unmasked numbers

But the number of deaths reported on the day is 90, which pales into insignificance against numbers now being unmasked based on revised guidelines announced by the Centre and Supreme Court directives and those freshly classified after being rejected earlier for lack of proper documentation.

This takes the cumulative toll to 29,355, only an earshot away from the 30,000 mark, and far beyond the conservative estimates of the State. As much as 94.4 per cent of the eligible population has taken the first dose of the vaccine and an impressive 49.1 per cent the second dose. But these figures have failed to make an impression on the daily new infections or the death numbers.

Glitches in classification

Meanwhile the State Health Minister denied the Opposition charge that there were deliberate attempts to underplay the death rate to keep the State’s mortality rate low.

“We have been following ICMR guideline with respect to classifying deaths, but technical glitches may have prevented some being accounted for as required. We will revise the list again,” the Minister had said in the State Assembly while replying to an adjournment motion moved by the Opposition.

The reconciliation could likely dent the State’s reputation as one with among the case fatality ratios – 0.5 per cent against a national average of 1.5 per cent. After reconciliation, this number could go up to at least 0.7 per cent.

It may be recalled that States such as Maharashtra, Bihar, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh and Delhi have all resorted to similar statistical corrections in order to incorporate previously uncounted fatalities in their Covid-19 death toll.

Published on October 26, 2021

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