File photo shows morgue workers conducting a cremation.
The STAR/ Michael Varcas
Quarantine delays death registration
Bella Perez-Rubio (Philstar.com) - July 31, 2020 - 5:58pm

MANILA, Philippines — More deaths are getting recorded belatedly by state statisticians this year, reflecting a direct consequence of the pandemic that prevented most people from transacting with government and logging deaths on time.

Overall, deaths in the entire archipelago dropped 16% year-on-year to 259,426 from January to June, the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) reported on Wednesday.

But the agency also warned that there appears a rising trend of delayed registration of deaths, or those whose passing were recorded at least 30 days after the actual demise. The “dramatic rise” of such cases were already seen in March and April, when lockdowns forced most people to stay indoors.

“The number of late registrations, or those whose deaths were registered beyond 30 days after the occurrence, for March and April 2020 showed a dramatic rise compared to the same months in 2019,” PSA said in a statement on its website.

 

In March alone, data showed 4,073 deaths were recorded at least a month after getting deceased, up markedly by 282% year-on-year. The number tapered off slightly to 3,522 in April, but still a 182% increase from same period a year ago.  

As a proportion of total deaths those months, 9.4% in March and 8.5% in April were registered before PSA belatedly. 

“The number of late registrations, or those whose deaths were registered beyond 30 days after the occurrence, for March and April 2020 showed a dramatic rise compared to the same months in 2019,” PSA said in a statement on its website.

A big jump in late death registrants occurred in months when most Filipinos were forced to stay home by quarantine restrictions that targeted to slow the spread of coronavirus disease-2019 (COVID-19). Government offices were working on skeleton force since mid-March, and people have just resumed regular transactions until June, including securing death certificates for their loved ones.

A death certificate is required for various transactions that settle matters left by the deceased, including insurance claims.

“Consequently, since the period for timely registration of deaths which occurred in March until May this year has already ended, only the number of late registrations for deaths occurring during this period are bound to increase as more deaths may still be registered in the coming days,” PSA explained.

Death certificates are applied before PSA offices. As per government rules, deaths must be registered within 30 days in the city or municipality where a person died, except in “exceptional cases” including death aboard an plane on air.

Calabarzon deaths biggest, ARMM’s lowest

In sum, for the last six months, 9,090 deaths were classified as late registered, accounting for 3.5% of total deaths during the period. In the same period a year ago, the proportion was only 1.8%.

On average, PSA figures showed 709 people were dying every day from January to June. By area, Calabarzon region recorded the most number of deaths at 40,095, followed by Metro Manila with 37,288. 

On the flip side, fewer deaths were posted at the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao with 1,016 getting demised. — with Gaea Katreena Cabico

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