On Wednesday, 444 deaths in Chennai were added to the state’s death tally after an audit by the Death Reconciliation Committee.

TN govt sets up four-member committee to ensure no deaths are being missed from daily bulletinImage for representation/PTI
Coronavirus Controversy Saturday, July 25, 2020 - 13:05

Days after the Tamil Nadu Health Department added 444 deaths from Chennai to the state’s COVID-19 death tally based on the recommendations of a reconciliation panel, the state government has set up a committee to ensure that deaths are not being missed from the daily bulletin from other districts.

In a letter to all the district collectors of Tamil Nadu, Chief Secretary K Shanmugam said that a committee with four members headed by the Director of Medical and Rural Health Services would ‘continuously scrutinize, reconcile the COVID-19 death report on a weekly basis to avoid omission in future’.

“In this regard the District Collectors are instructed to coordinate and ensure that the COVID-19 death reports are properly reconciled on a daily basis in each district without any omission, in consultation with local bodies and ensure its submission to the state health department for its eventual notification,” the letter said. It also directed the Collectors to verify the daily death report submitted by the government and private hospitals in the districts and compare it with the records in cremation and burial grounds maintained by the local bodies to ensure that the deaths are not missed to be included in the daily bulletin.

The committee has the Director of Medical Education, the Director of Public Health and Preventive Medicine and the corporation city health officer as the members.

On Wednesday, the state government added the deaths of 444 people who had died between March 1 and June 10 which had not been accounted for in Chennai’s COVID-19 death tally. The number was arrived at by the Death Reconciliation Committee set up by the state government, after various media reports and NGOs pointed to discrepancies in the accounting of deaths in Chennai district.

“As per Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR) guidelines, all deaths of those who tested positive for the coronavirus must be declared as COVID-19 deaths -- irrespective of underlying or antecedent cause of death. Therefore, a committee was constituted to compare death details from institutions and death details obtained from burial grounds,” the Wednesday’s bulletin stated.