Govt probing causes of decline in Covid-19 deaths

Updated 23 Jul 2020

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Officials said that government was happy over the declining mortality from the coronavirus but at the same time it was worried over the rumours that many people were not taking patients to hospitals. — Dawn/File
Officials said that government was happy over the declining mortality from the coronavirus but at the same time it was worried over the rumours that many people were not taking patients to hospitals. — Dawn/File

PESHAWAR: The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government is investigating reduction in deaths due to Covid-19 to determine if patients are dying out of hospitals or the virus has really become less infective.

Chief Secretary Dr Kazim Niaz has issued directives to local government department to report to the government about all deaths taking place at the community level, according to officials.

The directives were issued following a new strategy was devised by National Command and Control Centre Islamabad to ascertain the causes of fewer deaths due to Covid-19.

“The directives issued two days ago to the local government department, asking it that secretaries of union councils should compile the data of people dying in their jurisdiction and send all details to the chief secretary office about number of deaths and causes of deaths in their respective areas,” health officials told Dawn.

Union council secretaries and LWHs to collect data about deaths occurring in their areas

They said that there was also misinformation that patients were being administered poisonous injections at the Covid-19 wards of hospitals so that government could show to the world an enhanced deaths toll.

Officials said that government was happy over the declining mortality from the coronavirus but at the same time it was worried over the rumours that many people were not taking patients to hospitals and let their near and dear ones die at their homes.

They said that there were rumours that people avoided visiting hospitals because they thought that in case of deaths, they would be buried in line with the SOPs and the relatives and friends wouldn’t be allowed to perform their funerals.

“This situation exists throughout the country due to which the NCOC has asked all the chief secretaries to investigate all the deaths and ensure that the Covid-19 deaths are recorded properly,” said officials. The local government department has been directed to report all burial in graveyards along with reports about the causes of the deaths.

“It will be sort of a verbal postmortem of the deceased persons where relatives would be asked about the onset of the disease and the treatment received by the person prior to passing away,” they said.

Also, the lady health workers (LHWs) have been instructed to inform the health department about the people dying in their localities. “About 62 per cent of the province is covered by LHW programme according to which they are based in their own community covering 100 to 120 households for vaccination and other public health issues,” said officials. They added that as LHWs belonged to the same community, therefore, they would report to the department about the deaths and causes of deaths.

Officials said that even at present deaths due to Covid-19 correlated with cases that were also declining but the information that people were afraid of visiting hospitals still required to be investigated. They added that government was also collecting data about Covid-19 and non-Covid-19 deaths from the hospitals but there were reports about patients dying outside hospitals.

“The new initiative will give us an idea about the real picture with regard to deaths at the community level which will then be shared with the federal government by the office of the chief secretary,” said officials. They added that the new measure was meant to make new strategy after getting all information about the deaths.

The chief secretary wants information about each and every death, causes and information about their treatment and investigation etc. The district administration has also been directed to assist the local government department in this respect to ensure getting correct information about all deaths during the past few months, especially the downward trend in Covid-19 deaths in July.

Published in Dawn, July 23rd, 2020