A migrant worker who died of smoke asphyxiation while quarantined in a building that caught fire in Changhua City last week was added to the list of COVID-19 fatalities, according to the Taiwan Centers for Disease Control (CDC), and she may be one of many on the list of COVID deaths who didn’t actually die of COVID.
The 43-year-old female Indonesian national tested positive for COVID-19 June 11, after becoming ill June 8, and was staying in a quarantine hotel under self health management following her recovery and release from hospital June 29.
The Indonesian woman, who is not named in media reports, was one of four people who died of smoke asphyxiation after the quarantine hotel located on the 7th to 9th floors was engulfed in smoke emanating from a fire on the lower floors of the building in the evening of June 30.
The deceased was added to the list of COVID deaths as case 12132 by the CDC Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) on July 2. According to the CECC, case 12132 was tested by PCR post-mortem with a positive result at a Ct of 29, which was probably non-infectious.
Case 12132 was one of 15 cases of death added to the list July 2, bringing the total that day to 676 COVID-19 deaths in Taiwan.
Another case added to the list of COVID deaths in Taiwan July 2 was that of an Irish man who suddenly collapsed and died on a street while jogging in Taipei City, June 26. Recorded as case 14771, the cause of the 58-year-old man’s death was still under investigation when it was added to the COVID death count. The man was known to suffer from chronic high blood pressure and hyperlipidemia, and his COVID Ct value of 33 meant that he would have already been released from hospital if he had actually undergone treatment for COVID-19.
On July 3, 10 more COVID fatalities were added to the list, bringing Taiwan’s total COVID death count to 686. But three of the deaths recorded July 3 were not actually due to COVID-19, Taiwan’s Central News Agency reported.
The CECC said that all deaths of COVID patients are added to the list of COVID fatalities regardless of the actual cause of death. CDC Deputy Director General Lo Yi-chun said that currently all cases of death are added without distinction between direct and indirect causes of death, and that the definition of COVID-related deaths will be revised in the future, CNA reported.
Dr Luo pointed out that different countries have different definitions of COVID-related deaths. Some count deaths within 60 days of diagnosis, others have a stricter definition and only count deaths within 28 days.
Luo gave for example the United States where deaths from causes such as suicide, gunshot wounds, and drug overdoses are not included as COVID deaths. Taiwan has not yet ruled out such cases, Luo said.
Luo’s comments reported by CNA and other media outlets have since gone some way in answering questions Taiwan English News reached out to Taiwan’s CDC with June 26.
TEN requested answers to the following three questions via the CDC Director’s email query form:
Recently it was reported in China Times (2021/06/22) that no autopsies have been performed on the more than 500 cases of fatalities attributed to COVID-19. Can you please explain, in the absence of forensic examination, what is the basis for determining a death is caused by COVID-19? In recent weeks there have been at least 4 cases of suicide of people before or after testing positive for COVID-19. Can you please inform if these cases are included in the COVID fatality number?
While the CDC has not responded in the ensuing nine days since I posted my query, media reports and public statements by the CDC and CECC have adequately answered these questions.
Autopsies are not performed on COVID cases. Anybody who dies after testing positive for COVID is listed as a fatal COVID case, and yes, those suicides are counted as COVID deaths too.
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