The Health Department decided to add 7,000 deaths due to COVID-19, which occurred in the state from the beginning of the pandemic last year to mid-June 2021 and which had been ‘missing,’ to the current list of deaths, Health Minister Veena George said in the Assembly on Friday.
The Opposition and the media had been clamouring for the State Government to come clean on the actual number of COVID-19 deaths. The allegation was that the State Government was wilfully keeping out several hundreds of deaths from its official list for claiming that the state had the lowest mortality.
It was pointed out that several deaths, which had occurred in the post-COVID continuum, after the patient had tested negative for COVID, had been dropped from the official list
While the Health Minister had maintained that there was no wilful omission, it was following the Supreme Court’s directive regarding compensation for COVID victims that the state was forced to go over the deaths once again.
Though there was much speculation that 5,000 to 13,000 deaths were missing from the list, this is the first time that the State Government had officially confirmed the number of “missing” deaths as 7,000.
Ms. George claimed that these deaths were set aside because of incomplete documentation. Since June 16 this year, all COVID deaths were being reported directly from districts in an online portal.
Ms. George said the State Government had nothing to hide and that the 7,000 “missing” deaths had surfaced following the Health Department’s own inquiry, following complaints. The districts have been directed to publish the list of these 7,000 deaths and these would be added to the current list, which as on Friday, stands at 26,072.
The state’s actual number of COVID deaths is likely to go up further now that the Centre has issued new guidelines that a person’s death, occurring within 30 days of him/her testing positive for COVID, should be treated as death due to COVID and given compensation.
Ms. George said the State Government had created an online portal where the public can check the list of deaths. From October 10, applications for issuing official COVID-19 death documents and for inclusion of any missing names would be accepted, either through the online portal or directly from primary health centres.
Every grievance would be redressed within 30 days and no families eligible for receiving compensation as directed by the Supreme Court would be left out, Ms. George said.