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Union Health Ministry slams Kerala over non-transparent reporting of COVID deaths
Thiruvananthapuram: Coming down heavily on Kerala Government for its lack of transparency in reporting the Covid-19 deaths, the Union Health Ministry, in its death analysis report alleged that the ongoing COVID death reconciliation exercise completely belies Kerala's claim that it has managed the pandemic well.According to a death analysis report by the Ministry of Health and Family...
Thiruvananthapuram: Coming down heavily on Kerala Government for its lack of transparency in reporting the Covid-19 deaths, the Union Health Ministry, in its death analysis report alleged that the ongoing COVID death reconciliation exercise completely belies Kerala's claim that it has managed the pandemic well.
According to a death analysis report by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW), the state's claim of managing the pandemic well has come into question with the ongoing COVID-19 death reconciliation exercise, which has added around 8,684 deaths to the Covid death toll in the state in a time period of one month, from October 22 to November 22.
Also Read: States cannot deny Rs 50000 ex gratia if death certificate doesn't mention COVID: SC
After the death reconciliation exercise, the case fatality rate in the state has risen from 0.3% to 0.73%.
According to a recent media report in The Hindu, the state has been often accused of not announcing all COVID deaths or including all the COVID related deaths, in its official list of deaths from the very beginning of the pandemic. When the disparities were pointed out, the state did not provide an explanation in the consistencies in reporting the deaths, gaps in data and the unusual disparities in COVID mortality rate between districts.
The official list of COVID deaths began to be announced from March 2020 when the initial COVID related deaths began to be reported, and since then, many COVID related deaths that took place in the state have remained unreported in the official list.
After the Supreme Court raised the issue of ex-gratia payments to the families who lost their kin to Covid-19, the state was allegedly forced to declare the list of undeclared deaths in the state, make death reporting online directly from hospitals and perform a death reconciliation exercise.
According to the report, the state contributed to 6.2% of total cases during the month in the country but only 1.4% of total deaths reported in that period. In September, 2021, Kerala contributed to 65.7% of country's cases but 45.2% of country's deaths, reports the Hindu.
The report calls the behavior of the state, 'shocking', the State reported a backlog of 8,684 deaths apart for 1,789 new deaths from October to November. The unreported death makes up 83% of the total 10,473 deaths reported during the period.
The Union Health Ministry, stated the report, has always stressed on the importance of robust, timely and transparent reporting of cases and deaths on a daily basis to all the States, but the large number of unreported deaths the State's official COVID toll after the death reconciliation exercise "reveals inadequacies in the recording and reporting mechanism." The report added that the backlog of deaths have revealed the in the effective implementation of containment strategy of the State.
A public health official told The Hindu, "By deliberately not declaring COVID deaths and straining to push the narrative that Kerala had the lowest case fatality rate, at no point during the pandemic did we have the true picture about COVID's real impact. And that, when mortality reduction should have been the only goal before the Government. If the Government had been more transparent about data sharing, the collective wisdom of the State's clinicians could have helped the State evolve more focused strategies to bring down deaths."
The testing levels in Kerala have come down between 50,000-60,000 tests on a daily basis and it has remained on a plateau consistently since the past few months in disease transmission.
Over the past few weeks, the state has been reporting around 5,000 new cases daily, out of which around 40% of the newly reported cases are breakthrough infections in fully vaccinated individuals.
However, in the past few weeks, the active cases have been coming down steadily along with a drop in hospitalisations and ICU occupancy. Out of the total active cases, around 7% are in hospitals with over 1.6%admitted in oxygen beds and 1.4% in ICUs.
Around 62% of the people aged above 18 have been fully vaccinated in the state. As per official data, the death associated with breakthrough infections is less than 3%. However, there are around 50 covid deaths happening in the state on a daily basis.
Also Read: SC slams Gujarat Govt over disbursal of COVID ex-gratia
Revu is currently pursuing her masters from University of Hyderabad. With a background in journalism, she joined Medical Dialogues in 2021.