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Reporting of Covid-19 related deaths

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The reporting of deaths where COVID-19 is mentioned on an individual’s death certificate has been established in the weekly surveillance reports published by the Island’s Public Health Directorate.

Last week’s report confirmed an additional three deaths that occurred in mid-August but which have only recently been confirmed as COVID-related. Government is aware that this figure is at variance with that recorded on the dashboard for the same period. This is due to the time lag in COVID-19 being confirmed as a factor on the death notification.

Government acknowledges the difference between the dashboard, which reports hospital deaths and those outside the hospital who were known to have Covid, and the surveillance report which is based on death registrations where COVID-19 is mentioned anywhere on the death certificate.

The Director of Public Health Dr Henrietta Ewart said:

‘A time delay may arise in reporting COVID-19 as a prime or contributory cause of an individual’s death, for instance where the Coroner is informed and further investigation is required. Among these are deaths at home, including where the patient has one or more pre-existing conditions. While these deaths will be subsequently included in the surveillance report, they may not have featured in reporting before that time.

Dr Ewart added:

‘Public Health’s weekly surveillance report provides access to a range of data reflecting the ongoing course of the pandemic in the Isle of Man. There are different approaches to reporting data, and the dashboard has not always recorded deaths which have subsequently been declared as COVID-related and therefore captured in the Public Health surveillance report.’

Government acknowledges the concerns raised due to the issue of the report and has instigated further checks into the circumstances of the small number of deaths which have been beyond the sight of the dashboard. Consideration is being given as to how reporting of all COVID-19 related deaths can be made clearer in the future.