Kerala to declare COVID-19 death reports district-wise
The Kerala government on Monday said that the reporting of COVID-19 deaths is going to be decentralised as fatalities caused by COVID-19 will now be reported district-wise online. Kerala Health Minister Veena George in a press statement issued on June 14, said that an order was issued approving the proposal. There has been a row in the state over reporting of COVID-19 deaths, with opposition parties and a section of doctors accusing the government of underreporting deaths caused by the disease. The state had been declaring daily deaths happening at the state level from the data consolidated from districts. The Health Minister, while reiterating that the state was following the guidelines of the World Health Organisation (WHO) and that of the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) in reporting deaths, pointed out that an online portal had been set up for the purpose.
"Now onwards, deaths will be reported through this online portal with a real-time entry system. With the death reporting going online, the delay in confirming the death if caused by COVID-19 or not can be reduced as much as possible," the Minister said in the statement. The state has a Death Audit Committee (DAC) and a death declaration committee. While the former submits the data that is reported in the daily reports of COVID-19, the declaration committee works on the basis of certain technicalities and assigns an identity number to identify the deaths. The Audit Committee has to study the cause of deaths and has to prevent them. There have been suggestions from DAC members to declare COVID-19 deaths at the district level to avoid confusion.
"The online medical bulletin explaining the cause of death has to be prepared either by the medical superintendent or the doctor concerned at the hospital where the death happened. That has to be uploaded in the portal with details and pictures. This has to be confirmed in 24 hours by the District Medical Officer (DMO). It would be examined if it was a COVID-19 death, as per the guidelines, by the District Surveillance Officer and Additional District Medical Officer. This would be examined by the DMO to confirm if it was COVID-19 death," the Minister's statement said.
It added that the death would be reported to the state-level declaring committee after confirmation at the district level and state-level deaths would be declared based on the reports from all 14 districts. The Congress-led opposition had also raised concerns over complaints that the COVID-19 death toll declared by the state government lacked accuracy.