With an aim to manipulate the process of recording COVID death cases, the Kerala government changed the criteria for recording COVID-19 deaths on July 20. As per the changed criteria, those who had comorbidities would be excluded from the list of COVID-19 deaths.
After a rigorous PR exercise projecting Kerala as a ‘model’ in handling the COVID scenario, the left government is now grappling with the pandemic which continues to spiral up in the state. Earlier this year, the left government had claimed that ‘it has flattened the curve' and promoted it as ‘Kerala Model’ which can be emulated worldwide and elsewhere in India. After the much-touted publicity stunt and PR exercises with the help of agencies, which even the international media had echoed, the state health minister KK Shailaja now says, says Kerala could soon see 10,000 to 20,000 cases a day!
A few days ago, a state government-constituted expert panel has found that the state government is underreporting the COVID deaths. The panel reportedly told the administration that Kerala is undercounting Covid-19 deaths in the state.
According to a report submitted by the panel to the government on 10 August, the process of counting COVID deaths in Kerala is “ambiguous”, because of a change in the criteria on 20 July, when the state decided to not include patients with comorbidities in the tally.
“People who had Covid-19 were excluded if they had other illnesses at the time of their death. It also decided to re-examine samples of those who died while undergoing treatment for Covid-19,” the report
said about the state of counting in Kerala after the change in criteria.
“The test may turn negative if the death occurs three or four weeks after a person is infected with the coronavirus. Such deaths are also excluded,” it added.
The Kerala government had changed the criteria for recording COVID-19 deaths on July 20. As per the changed criteria, those who had comorbidities would be excluded from the list of COVID-19 deaths.
The panel said changing “the criteria for inclusion on the list of Covid-19 deaths without proper explanation at a time when the coronavirus is claiming an increasing number of people” would raise suspicion in the minds of the public and the scientific community. “The authenticity of the official information will be questioned,” the committee said in its submission.
As on August 22, the government had officially confirmed 218 COVID related deaths in the state. But a parallel list released by doctors said that 365 died so far due to infection, which means 147 more patients.
As per a report published on August 14, several doctors, who have been independently compiling deaths due to COVID-19, had stated that the maximum number of deaths (44) have taken place in Thiruvananthapuram, followed by Ernakulam (29) and then Malappuram and Kozhikode with 24 deaths each. “We have compiled the list from daily news reports across all media. We have all the details and the corresponding reports of these 242 persons,” said Dr Arun N, who practices general medicine in Palakkad. However, as on August 14, the Government had maintained that the official count of deaths was just 129!