SANTIAGO – The Ministry of Health is changing the criteria for counting Covid-19 deaths. This decision comes after numerous reports indicated that there were more deaths from the virus than previously reported. The Minister warns that this change in criteria will cause a sudden spike in reported deaths.
The Ministry of Health is changing how it counts coronavirus deaths. This decision comes after questions about the country’s low death rate.
The change consists of including all the decedents whose deaths had been labeled suspicious and who were awaiting the results of Covid-19 tests. Previously, the decedents were tested and not considered Covid-19 casualties until the result of the tests, which could be anywhere from 48 hours to a week later.
The change was announced by Health Minister Jaime Mañalich Jun. 1, who added that it would cause the daily death toll to spike.
Criticism of the Figures
The mayor of Renca, Claudio Castro, has requested the Health Ministry for a more specific breakdown of deaths according to municipalities. This comes after the Ministry’s daily update noted nine deaths in the municipality, while the local government had counted 22 and was awaiting results as to 11 other decedents.
Castro told La Tercera, “We are not notified when someone dies. The information we have has been constructed by our link with the family or the healthcare facilities.” He further added, “We need that information to know the true death rate…. And also to let citizens know how dangerous this disease is.”
Meanwhile, other investigations have shown that numerous deaths have been classified as suspected Covid-19 deaths, but have not been accounted for in the Coronavirus update. The investigation used May 25 as an example: the Ministry of Health listed 806 deaths as a result of the virus, while the national registry listed 869.
Journalist Alejandra Matus, for example, highlighted ambiguous government-sanctioned protocols pursuant to which the cause of death was simply listed as “acute respiratory syndrome” and “pneumonia,” even though a decedent had tested positive for Covid-19.
Diego Rivera is currently a senior in University, finishing up his audiovisual degree. You can find him on Twitter as @Piover45.