The Congress leader said that the state government was not considering deaths due to post-COVID-19 complications as deaths due to the pandemic.

Satheesan's close up shot, his face is bent to the side and he appears to be talking to someone, the background is black
news COVID-19 Saturday, May 29, 2021 - 13:21

Kerala Leader of Opposition VD Satheesan on Friday raised concerns over complaints that the COVID-19 death toll declared by the state government allegedly lacks accuracy. Speaking to the media, VD Satheesan alleged that many, including various doctors' associations, have been complaining about under-reporting the COVID-19 death toll in the state. He stated that the government is not considering deaths due to post-COVID-19 complications as death due to the pandemic. “The government has declared a financial assistance scheme for children orphaned by the death of their parents in the pandemic. But if the government tries to deliberately reduce the death toll, these children will not get the aid,” said VD Satheesan. 

He added that even members of doctors' associations, including the Indian Medical Association, have raised similar complaints in many districts. The government has announced a special relief package for children orphaned by COVID-19. The financial aid includes a one-time transfer of Rs 3 lakh and Rs 2,000 monthly aid till the child reaches 18 years of age. The government will also bear the expense of the child’s education till Degree.

“If someone dies due to a heart attack after testing negative for the coronavirus, it is not counted as death due to the pandemic. People are dying due to many post-COVID-19 complications, but they are not added to the list. Deserving families will not get the government declared assistance when this happens. We request the government to check this,” Satheesan added.

Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) leader and MLA PK Kunhalikutty also backed Satheesan saying that deaths due to post COVID-19 complications are not included by the government. “Many people are collapsing and dying days after they test negative. In villages especially, there are many such deaths,” Kunhalikutty said.

According to the state's COVID-19 dashboard, a total of 8,063 people have died due to COVID-19 in the state. But there has been criticism about under-reporting the death toll. Recently, it surfaced that many COVID-19 deaths in Thiruvananthapuram Medical College were under-reported by the government.

According to sources in the Death Audit Committee of Kerala, the state follows the guidelines issued by the Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR) and World Health Organisation (WHO) to classify COVID-19 related deaths. "If the person has recovered, meaning if they no longer have any symptoms of COVID-19 for 24-48 hours and then dies afterward, such deaths will not be considered as COVID-19 deaths. But if a person has tested negative they can still be classified under COVID-19 deaths, depending on a number of factors. In each case, we clearly mention why a death is considered a COVID-19 death or not," said an official who is part of the committee.

However, according to ICMR guidelines, if the person tested positive but has no symptoms, the death is still classified as COVID-19. A death is recorded as ‘Clinically–Epidemiologically diagnosed COVID -19’ if the person tested negative for the coronavirus but had symptoms. Similarly, if an individual has symptoms but the test report is inconclusive or awaited, these deaths are classified as probable COVID-19 or suspected COVID-19 respectively.