On December 9, Kerala recorded 35 Covid-19 related deaths taking the death toll to 2,507. A milestone the state wouldn’t be proud of. On December 10 and 11, Kerala has seen a total of 55 deaths. In the past few months, From December 1 to December 11, the state has recorded 318 Covid-19 deaths at an alarming average of 28.9 deaths a day.
As per the Kerala government’s Covid-19 dashboard, the highest number of casualties have been seen in the age group of 60 years and above, with 1,844 deaths as of December 10. This is followed by the age group of 41-59 years with 542 deaths. According to the data, 93.66% of the deceased got infected via contact, and only 1.08% have come from out of state. The remaining 5.25% is unknown. It is alarming, to say the least.
But how is Kerala faring in comparison with other states when it comes to Covid-19 related deaths? On December 11, Kerala is ranked 13 out of 21 states when it comes to Covid deaths. However, with the steady increase in daily deaths, the state could well be climbing up the list. Maharashtra continues to lead the charts with 47,972 Covid deaths. Maharashtra recorded 70 deaths on December 10, most by any state. But considering Maharashtra’s population and area, it would be unfair to compare Maharashtra’s Covid numbers to that of Kerala despite Kerala having a higher caseload on December 10. Even states like Karnataka and Tamil Nadu that are second and third on the list of Covid deaths and have a bigger population in comparison to Kerala, the number of casualties is under 20 deaths in both states. The state has to find a way to reduce the number of Covid-19 related deaths.
There is one way, but an unethical way, the state can reduce the number of Covid deaths, underreporting deaths. Two months ago, the state was accused of underreporting Covid deaths by almost half. In a November 20 article, BBC correspondent Soutik Biswas reported that the state might be underreporting by half. A group of volunteers, led by Dr Arun N Madhavan, were recording every death reported in the state by following the district editions of seven local newspapers and five news channels. “On November 19, the volunteers had counted 3,356 deaths from the infection in Kerala, which reported its first Covid-19 case in January and the first casualty in March. But the official death toll from the disease is 1,969,” the BBC report stated. Dr Madhavan told BBC that underreporting was rampant. According to the report, patients who tested negative just before they died and did not belong to Kerala were not counted. Although questions have been raised on this matter, the state government has said that it has always reported all Covid deaths. Interestingly, a month before the BBC story broke, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan went on record to say that the state government has been “responsibly” reporting all Covid deaths “without fail.” Vijayan blamed the media for publishing negative stories.
Despite all this, the state is yet to find a way to reduce the number of deaths. It is up to the public to be responsible and by adhering to the Covid-19 guidelines. Sanitizing our hands, maintaining social distancing and most importantly, wearing a mask can protect us from getting infected and even death.