The Kerala government will add 7,000 more deaths to its Covid-19 toll, reported the Hindustan Times, citing state Health Minister Veena George. This will take the coronavirus fatality count in the state to 33,072 as of Saturday.
The move came amid allegations from the Opposition that the Kerala government was underreporting deaths to keep the state’s mortality rate low.
“The [fatality] list is incomplete as many Covid-19 deaths fail to figure in the list,” Congress leader VD Satheesan alleged in the state Assembly on Friday. “Its public relations exercise fell flat. No government should have done such a disservice to its people.”
Satheesan also alleged that tens of thousands of families that had lost relatives due to Covid-19 were being denied financial assistance, reported PTI. In September, the Centre had told the Supreme Court that states will pay Rs 50,000 as compensation to the families of those who died of the coronavirus disease.
The deaths to be added occurred from March 2020 to the second week of June this year, reported The Indian Express. Till this period, the deaths were examined by a medical board that then announced the toll. After this, hospitals started directly uploading their fatality count online.
On Friday, George said the state government was making no deliberate attempt to exclude deaths from the Covid-19 toll. These deaths were not registered due to reasons such as technical problems and absence of various certificates, according to George.
The health minister said that Kerala was the first state in the country to set up a Covid-19 Death Assessment Committees as per the Centre’s revised guidelines. She said the state had expedited the process to provide Covid-19 death certificates to the family members of the victims in a hassle-free manner.
“If complaints exist about omissions [of deaths] in the list, the health department is open to look into them,” George said.
She said that people who died within 30 days of their admission to a hospital as a Covid-19 patient would be considered as a Covid-19 death. An order to allot Rs 50,000 as financial aid to the families of such people from the state distress relief fund has already been issued, George added.
“The state government has acted very swiftly to implement the directives as per the Centre’s new guideline,” the health minister insisted. “We are moving ahead with a clear, concrete and time-bound plan to ensure the assistance to all applicants.”
Kerala has one of the lowest Case Fatality Rates for Covid-19 at 0.5% while the countrywide average is 1.5%. With the addition of 7,000 deaths, the Case Fatality Rate is expected to rise to 0.7%, according to the Hindustan Times.
Case Fatality Rate is the ratio of the number of deaths to the number of cases reported. For example, if 12 people died when 1,000 cases were reported, the Case Fatality Rate will be 0.012, or 1.2%.
On Friday, Kerala recorded 10,944 new cases, pushing the infection tally in the state to 47,74,639 since the pandemic broke out in January last year. The toll climbed by 120 to 26,072.