Many patients in triage management with suspected symptoms or those awaiting RT-PCR reports are also not accounted as COVID deaths if their reports arrive later. “The deceased in COVID wards are added up after a thorough perusal of their reports but many succumb to the virus even before we begin treatment. Those deaths are mentioned as triage ward deaths, mostly in government medical colleges,” said S Janarthan, a medico on duty at one of the medical colleges in the State.
Besides, many severe cases awaiting beds pass away in the ambulance vehicles and these deaths are not a part of the toll records. “There is a waiting period of 10-12 hours for many patients before they are admitted to the hospital and then an additional waiting time of about 3-4 hours at the hospital entrance generally. If there are critical patients, they are allotted beds on priority but usually after 2 hours and many fail to survive. We don’t know if those deaths are even being counted because there is no registration before admission,” said Suresh, an ambulance driver from 108 GVK EMRI.
Meanwhile, many have passed away in their homes a few days after discharge from hospitals. These are also not mentioned as COVID deaths as only those patients who died in hospitals are counted. “We have performed the last rites for several people who were not admitted or treated for COVID but were suspected cases, “ said Mohaideen Ansari, general secretary of Popular Front of India, which provides safe burial or cremation for corona patients.
“We are transparent about the data shared on these deaths. The numbers in the data are based purely on what the treating doctor or healthcare worker certifies. If the treating doctor certifies it as a COVID death, it is accounted for in the data,” said Dr T S Selvavinayagam, director of Public Health and Preventive Medicine.