New Delhi: A BBC report has said that a study has found that the government is hiding the actual number of deaths caused by COVID in Kerala.
The report by BBC is based on a study conducted by a team led by Dr Arun N Madhavan.
According to official figures, the number of deaths in the state due to COVID as of Thursday night was 1,969. But the study by Dr Arun N Madhavan and his team claims that 3,356 people have died from the disease till then.
They have compiled the figures by daily following five news channels and local editions of seven newspapers. Prabhat Jha of the University of Toronto said the study was done in an effective manner.
It is estimated that 89 lakh people have been affected by COVID in India so far. The country has the second-highest number of reported COVID cases in the world after the US. India has reported 1,30,000 fatalities due to the disease. It has a mortality rate of 1.5%, which is the lowest in the world.
Some experts point out that the mortality rate is low because many states do not report COVID deaths properly.
COVID deaths in Kerala are not being accurately recorded even though the state claims that the figures provided on the special online COVID dashboard are the most transparent correct, Dr Arun said. If a person is confirmed as being COVID negative just before death or if a person from outside Kerala dies in the state, those deaths are not included in the official list of fatalities caused by COVID.
Dr Arun said three people aged between 65 and 78 years had gone to clinics with COVID symptoms and later died. However, tests were not done to confirm whether the deaths were caused by COVID, he said.
According to the BBC report, Rajeev Sadanandan, an adviser to the government on measures to prevent COVID, has admitted that “some” deaths due to the disease go unreported. He, however, said that this was not intentional and that it is difficult to hide information in a society where things are moving forward transparently.
A group led by volunteers was formed to collect the actual figures of COVID deaths after the government began removing victims from the official list in July when the spread of the pandemic started increasing rapidly.
COVID deaths of people who had other serious illnesses, including cancer, were removed from the official list. In July alone, 22 deaths were off the list.
The deaths were deliberately not being recorded and it cannot be seen as being caused by a failure on the government’s part, Oommen C Kurian of the Delhi-based Observer Research Foundation said. However, even if all the deaths removed from the list are also added, the fact remains that the extraordinary excellence Kerala has shown in keeping the mortality rate low is remarkable, he said, according to the BBC report.