THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Even as the state government has decided to review the Covid death toll following allegations of under-reporting, there is no clarity on whether it will also include non-resident Keralites who died of the infection in various countries so that their next of kin get the ex gratia assistance recommended by the Supreme Court. Worryingly, none of the government agencies have any statistics on the number of Keralites who died in foreign countries due to Covid so far.
The health department has been classifying the deaths that occurred in the state following the guidelines issued by WHO and ICMR, while NORKA-Roots (department of non-resident Keralites) does not have any system to register the names of expats who died of Covid in foreign countries.The NoRKA spokesperson said, “We don’t have any official system in various countries to cross-check if the deaths were due to Covid or not. None of the families of NRI victims have approached NORKA seeking any help in this regard,” he said.
After the Covid outbreak, 14,63,176 expats returned to the state as on June 18 this year, of whom 10.45 lakh came back after losing their jobs, according to the stats available with NORKA.Meanwhile, UAE-based social worker Ashraf Thamarasery said thousands of Keralites have died due to Covid. “When the Central or state government gives financial assistance to the families of those who lost their loved ones to the pandemic, the families of Malayali expats should not be left out. None of these families could even see the bodies of their loved ones. If the families of deceased expatriates are left out of the beneficiary list, it would be an injustice to them,” he said in a Facebook post.
To a query, the office of Health Minister Veena George said the state government is now checking whether there have been non-inclusion of Covid deaths announced in the state list. The government would also examine if there are any specific complaints regarding the non-inclusion of any deaths in the state’s official Covid death list. “But it is the Central government which should take a call on whether expats who died of Covid in foreign countries would be included in the list of beneficiaries. No other state in the country has included their names in the list,” said the office of the health minister.
It is the Central government which should take a call on whether expats who died of Covid in foreign countries would be included in the list of beneficiaries. No other state has included their names in the list,” said the office of the health minister.