CMO defines ‘covid19 deaths’

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Chief Medical Officer Dr Roshan Parasram – File photo

TWO categories of deceased patients are considered as being covid19 deaths, Chief Medical Officer (CMO) Dr Roshan Parasram said at Wednesday’s virtual news briefing held by the Ministry of Health.

Also present was Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh.

Parasram’s remarks, in reply to a reporter’s question, came after a recent call by NATUC head Michael Annisette for clarification.

Firstly, the CMO said, “Anyone that has passed away and has a covid-positive test at the time of death will be classed as covid-positive, dying with covid.”

Secondly, he considered people who had actually died from covid19.

“Anyone that would have had covid, for example, and passed away, what happens is that the clinicians make a decision. They put on the death certificate what they think is the cause of death, and that is what is generally utilised.”

Parasram said clinicians send details to the ministry’s central repository of data, the Epidemiological Unit under Dr Avery Hinds.

“They actually say that the person has died of complications of covid. So we use both categories, add them together, and that’s how you get deaths.”

Parasram said covid19 deaths consisted of “both persons dying of complications of covid, and those having a positive PCR test at the time of death.”

The CMO later elaborated.

“Generally there are two main categories – persons who would have died with covid, and those who die of covid, meaning of the complications of covid. So we have two broad categories.”

Patients dying in hospital would be covered by a death certificate from hospital clinicians.

“Persons who would have died at home, having known their status prior to death, would be classified by the district medical officer (DMO) or the attending physician, and then that data would come upstream to the Ministry of Health.

“As it relates to the unknown deaths, for example, somebody collapses at your home, they would not have been swabbed before, they don’t know their status. What happens is that when they come in and are brought into the institutions, at that point they are swabbed and we count those as persons that would have died having a positive swab at the time of death.”

Parasram said the broad categories aim to adequately cover deaths in Trinidad and Tobago.

“Through the system we have with the police service and DMOs, they are responsible for all deaths outside of the hospital.

“So we think we have cast a very wide net and are able to capture all the deaths, inclusive of everything that happens outside of the hospital.”

Annisette on Tuesday warned about public panic if certain deaths were misappropriated into daily covid19 death statistics, urging, “Deaths therefore in persons who tested positive should not be listed as part of the covid statistics, unless the patient succumbs to a pathology related to covid19, like respiratory failure secondary to covid lung injury/pneumonia.”