Facing Cong, BJP flak, Kerala govt decides to publish names, details of those succumbing to COVID

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(Adds details) Thiruvananthapuram, Jul 2 (PTI) Facing flak from the BJP and Congress over alleged mismatch in the COVID-19 deaths reported in Kerala, Health Minister Veena George on Friday said the government has decided to publish the names and other details of those who succumbed to the virus in the state.

The minister said she has directed that the name, age and place of each COVID patient, who succumbs to the infection, be published on the website of the Health Department from Saturday.

Till now, only the the district, age and date of death of each COVID patient were being published on the department's website, she said.

Earlier in the day, opposition Congress and BJP continued to allege mismatch in the COVID-19 deaths reported in Kerala and accused the state government of projecting a 'fabricated' figure to save its face in the fight against the pandemic.

The opposition reiterated the charges a day after George had said the state government has nothing to hide with regard to pandemic-related casualties.

She reiterated the same on Friday at a press meet.

The opposition leader in the state Assembly V D Satheesan, at a press conference in Kozhikode during the day, claimed there has been a mismatch in the death toll.

The Health Minister was trying to save the government from getting exposed on the deceptive numbers of COVID deaths, he alleged.

'I wonder why the government should hide the facts.There is no need for the Government to think that revelation of real figures would taint its image,' Satheesan said.

Stating that tens of thousands had died due to the pandemic across the globe, he accused the state government of conspiring to project a fabricated figure hiding factual numbers.

The Congress leader also said the opposition would not accuse the government for COVID deaths, which is part of the pandemic.

Meanwhile, BJP state president K Surendran alleged that only one-third of the actual COVID-19 deaths was reflected in the government records and even the Health Minister had admitted that the state authorities had covered up the toll.

Alleging that the Pinarayi Vijayan government had excluded COVID-19 deaths from the official records in order to stage a campaign that 'Kerala is Number One', he said the state was violating ICMR norms and the central policy in this regard since the beginning.

The BJP leader also said that more people are succumbing to the disease in the state due to false negative reports and delayed medical examination.

'The state government has reduced the weekly averagetest to one-fifth. This is the reason why the death rate inthe state is yet to decrease,' he said.

Without understanding this, the government has triedto save its face by reducing the death toll, the BJP leaderadded.

These allegations were refuted by George in her press conference on Friday where she said the deaths were being reported by doctors according to the guidelines laid down by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR).

On Thursday, she had said the state government had nothing to hide with regard todeaths due to COVID-19.

A new transparent and decentralised online system hasbeen put in place to report deaths due to the virus, George had said, a day after the Supreme Court directed the NationalDisaster Management Authority to issue guidelines in six weeksfor ex-gratia compensation to families of those who died ofCOVID.

Kerala is a state where 100 per cent births and deathsare reported, she had said and added that it is not as if the state decides on which death to be categorised as due to COVID or not.

As per government figures, 13,505 people have losttheir lives to the virus, while Congress and BJP have claimed that the actual number might be double that. PTI LGK HMP BN BALA BN BALA

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