The Centre has sought clarification from Kerala over its Covid death reporting mechanism, saying daily reconciliation of large numbers leads to an overall skewed scenario of COVID-19 mortality, further impacting planning for public health response.
In a letter to the state government, Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan said Kerala has reported a total of 20,563 reconciled Covid deaths since October 22, 2021.
He drew the state government's attention to the ministry's letter dated November 12, 2021 and further reiterations during review meetings, where states were advised to ensure that all backlog deaths are reconciled and updated at once including the date of death.
Kerala has been consistently publishing data on “reconciled deaths” since October 22 last year, and "a total of 20,563 reconciled deaths so far have been reported by Kerala", Bhushan said in his letter addressed to Principal Secretary (Health) Rajan N Khobragade.
"It is not clear if these are over and above the deaths reported so far or there is an overlap," Bhushan said.
It is observed that the Covid deaths reported in past 24 hours as published in the daily bulletin on the state website also provides record for deaths older than 24 hours which creates an uncertainty regarding this data, he said.
"It would be appreciated if the reporting mechanism followed in the state, under which older deaths are also being reported as daily deaths, it clarified.
"While reconciliation to the extent of showing an accurate picture is acceptable, such daily reconciliation of large numbers leads to an overall skewed scenario of COVID-19 mortality, which further impacts planning for public health response," the letter said.
It further mentioned that since the emergence of the Omicron variant of coronavirus, India has witnessed a surge in Covid cases and there has also been an increase in the number of deaths reported across the country.
Given the rising trend in cases and deaths being observed, it is critical to compile accurate data on a daily basis in order to arrive at a meaningful understanding of the pandemic trajectory as also the severity of the disease and mortality, Bhushan said.