Kerala seems to be delaying and is reluctant to count the death for now.

Palakkad man who died of COVID-19 not counted in Kerala or TNs death tallyRepresentative
Coronavirus Coronavirus Monday, April 13, 2020 - 20:03

A 71-year old native of Palakkad in Kerala succumbed to COVID-19 at a multi-specialty hospital in Tamil Nadu’s Coimbatore district on April 10, Friday. Strangely, it has been three days since the man’s death and neither Kerala nor Tamil Nadu has added the death to its state tally. 

According to reports, the man, who owns a hardware shop in Palakkad, went to a hospital in Coimbatore on April 2. He was experiencing shortness of breath and severe chest congestion when he was in Palakkad and came to the multispecialty hospital in Coimbatore for treatment. He had kidney issues and diabetes.

He was tested positive for coronavirus when he was in the Coimbatore hospital, on April 8, Wednesday. Two days later, on Friday, he passed away. A team of doctors and nurses in the hospital has been asked to remain in quarantine and the hospital has shut when the case was diagnosed.

'Not a domicile,' says Tamil Nadu 

G Ramesh Kumar, Deputy Director of Health Services in Coimbatore told TNM that since the man does not live in Tamil Nadu, he will not be counted in the state’s list.

“He used to live in Palakkad, his family and contacts are there. Even quarantining is happening there. If a Malayali who lives and works out of Tamil Nadu dies in a hospital here, we will add the person to the list. But in this case, he is not a domicile,” Ramesh Kumar explained.

He further added that a doctor who treated the patient had tested positive for COVID-19 and has been included in the district list of patients. “The man came with severe stomach pain. Soon his condition worsened and he was put on a ventilator. Since he is from Kerala, we decided to do the COVID-19 test and it turned out to be positive,” he said.

Kerala delays listing the case 

An official at the Palakkad Collectorate told TNM that the man did not have any symptoms of COVID-19 when he was taken to Coimbatore. “We don’t know if he contracted the disease from there,” the official said.

When asked then why the man’s family was quarantined in the Palakkad government hospital, the official said, “The wife and his kin are isolated at the hospital. If they also turn positive, we will consider adding him to our list.”

Another health official in Kerala, who did not want to be quoted, told TNM that if the person was diagnosed in Palakkad, referred to Coimbatore and dies in Coimbatore, he is considered as a COVID-19 death in Kerala. On the contrary, if the patient who is a native of Palakkad was diagnosed in Coimbatore and died there, it is a case of the Tamil Nadu government.

This explanation, however, appears hollow as just a day after the Palakkad native’s death, Kerala’s Kannur district reported a COVID-19 death, of a 71-year-old man who hailed from Mahe, a town in the Union Territory of Puducherry. Mahe shares its borders with Kannur and Kozhikode districts.

According to the route map released by the Kannur district administration, the man was tested positive for coronavirus on April 7 in a hospital in Kerala.

As per his route map, which traced his travel from March 15, he was admitted to the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) of Tely Medical Centre in Thalassery (Kannur) after he complained of heart and kidney ailments. The same day, he was referred to a multi-specialty hospital, Aster MIMS in Kannur.  As per reports, his swab samples were taken on April 6. He was shifted to the medical college on April 7 after his samples tested positive and died on April 11, Saturday.

If the same Kerala protocol is applied in this case, the Mahe native’s death should be recorded as a case of death in Kerala. However, his death has been registered as the first death of Puducherry.

When speaking to the media, Kerala Health Minister KK Shailaja stated that the Mahe man was not from Kerala and had come to Kannur for treatment. She also said that all his relatives are from Mahe.

No common protocol? 

While Kerala remains ambiguous about its protocol, Karnataka has included the death of a 75-year-old woman, who was a native of Andhra Pradesh and had returned from Saudi Arabia, in its list. She was undergoing treatment in Karnataka and hence, the state reported the death.

In yet another instance, a doctor from Nellore in Andhra Pradesh who died in Chennai on Monday morning was not added to Tamil Nadu's tally as he was a domicile of Andhra. However, the death has not yet reflected in Andhra's tally. Details here.

The health official of Kerala claimed there is no 'ego' behind not reporting a death case. In fact, the official claimed, it helps states with better surveillance and detection of primary and secondary contacts as well as to check community spread. 

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