Guidelines made for issuing ‘official document’ for COVID-related deaths, Centre tells SC

The Union government informed the Supreme Court that the Ministry of Health and the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) have made guidelines for issuance of “official document” for deaths related to COVID-19.

The Centre filed an affidavit before the apex court, as per which a circular had been issued by the Office of the Registrar General of India for provision of Medical Certificate of Cause of Death (MCCD) to the deceased’s next of kin.

As per the Centre’s guidelines, COVID-19 cases that will be considered will be those where diagnosis was made through RT-PCR test, rapid-antigen test, molecular test or was clinically determined via investigations by a treating physician at a hospital or in-patient facility, while admitted there.

Deaths which will not be considered COVID-19 deaths under the guidelines include poisoning, suicide, homicide and deaths due to accident, among others, even if COVID-19 was found to be an accompanying condition.

As per the guidelines, “COVID-19 cases which are not resolved and have died either in hospital settings or at home, and where a Medical Certificate of Cause of Death (MCCD) in Form 4 and 4 A has been issued to the registering authority as required under Section 10 of the Registration of Birth and Death (RBD) Act, 1969, will be treated as a COVID-19 death.”

Necessary guidelines will be issued to chief registrars of all Indian states and UTs by the Registrar General of India.

The guidelines also mentioned that 95 percent of deaths happen within 25 days of an individual testing positive for COVID-19, which comes from an ICMR study. Noting this, the guidelines aim to broaden the scope and make it more inclusive by including deaths occurring within 30 days from the date on which a person was tested or when COVID-19 was clinically determined, even if the death happened outside the hospital or in-patient facility.

The guidelines also provide for cases where no MCCD is available or the next of kin are unsatisfied with the mentioned cause of death. Such cases will be handled by a district-level committee, as per directions issued in the guidelines.  

(With inputs from DNA India)

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