All COVID-19 deaths will be reported in real time as PCR/AgRDT confirmed, or probable COVID-19 deaths, the Ministry of Health has said.
According to a statement released by Dr. Olaro Charles on behalf of the Director General Health Services Ministry of health, this will be done forward and retrospectively for the non-classified COVID-19 related deaths.
“When this is done, there will be a readjustment of deaths and we shall report accordingly. The readjustment in deaths numbers in COVID-19 pandemic is not new as reported in Columbia and India. The Ministry of Health is committed to Providing accurate and reliable information on all elements of COVID-19 response to the general population, other users, and the decision-makers” Dr. Olaro said.
The development follows growing concerns from the population regarding the delayed reporting and notification of COVID-19 and COVID-19 related deaths.
The health Ministry noted that this has in turn caused discomfort from the general population, family members of the deceased and the health workers managing the patients in the various treatment centers across the country.
“This is highly regretted. The Ministry of Health is committed to caring for all patients in the best way possible, accurately reporting and communicating the clinical outcomes including deaths. Accurate reporting on clinical outcomes requires thorough due diligence to avoid misrepresentation and mis-clarification” Dr. Olaro explains.
He explained however, that the process of doing this, whereas should be in real-time, most times is not achieved. This, at times causes delays in reporting deaths. He added that COVID-19 diagnosis is principally using Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR), and antigen (Rapid Diagnostic Tests) RDTs. However, given different biological processes; timings, technique, storage, and transportation of the COVID-19 sample, including when the suspected patient accesses the health facility and is instituted in care, the presence of the virus may not be detected at the time (by PCR and Antigen RDTs AQGRDTs).
According to Dr. Olaro, the time when the individual has taken the test, the virus may no longer be in the upper respiratory region (throat), but will present with continuing including severe COVID-19 illness (cytokine storm and respiratory failure), which in some cases may lead to death.
“As a result, we rely on other indirect diagnostic features to make a conclusion on the cause of death in relation to the presenting symptoms with or without a positive PCR or AgRDT finding. In this, we derive the additional diagnostic findings from CT scans, X-rayS, postmortem, and other clinical findings to conclude on the outcome of the patient” he said.
Adding that the Ministry of Health working with the COVID-19 Scientific Advisory Committee has finalized a clinical diagnostic criterion for suspected COVID-19 patients with severe COVID-19 illness but negative or no positive PCR.