Kerala set to revise COVID-19 toll, fatality rate to double

Health Minister Veena George

Thiruvananthapuram: The Kerala Government has decided to revise the list of COVID-19 deaths in the state by adding the names reported by the districts but excluded at the state-level. However, there is no move to have a re-look at the deaths not reported by hospitals based on the defective guidelines prevailing earlier.

It is pointed out that all COVID-19 deaths had to be included in the list to ensure that everyone eligible received a compensation ordered by the Supreme Court. According to guidelines issued by Kerala’s Health Department, all deaths taking place after a person became COVID-negative need not be included in the list. As a result, even cancer patients who died after contacting COVID-19 were not considered victims of the pandemic. Moreover, hospitals did not report such deaths even to the district-level COVID cells.

Meanwhile, in a curious order, the Health Department has asked district medical officers to submit the list of victims even though it is already in possession of the data.

Minister’s promise
Reacting to the developments, Health Minister of Kerala Veena George said that all COVID-19 deaths would be included in the fresh list, planned to be released in three days. “Complaints regarding individual cases of exclusion could be raised. Documents such as medical bulletins published by hospitals and lab reports are needed to confirm the cause of death. Even if this data is unavailable, the deaths could be considered as COVID-related,” she said.

Details regarding victims would be available at each District Medical Office and grievances addressed there itself. “Suppose there is a demand to revise the guidelines again, we will inform the Centre,” said the minister.

CFR to rise
The exercise to revise the COVID toll is expected to raise the Case Fatality Rate (CFR), which was flaunted as one of the government’s biggest achievements. Kerala’s present CFR of 0.46, which is among lowest in the world, could double to almost 1 when the deaths reported by local bodies are also included in the final list.

For instance, the CFR of Thiruvananthapuram district is 0.94 while that of Idukki is a mere 0.18. Experts say that the figures are unlikely to vary across the state and if Thiruvananthapuram’s CFR is taken as the state average, as many as 27,946 people have already died of COVID-19 in Kerala.

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