COVID-19 Death Certificate: Centre Issues Guidelines After Supreme Court Rap

New Delhi: The Union Health Ministry and Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) have finally issued guidelines for issuance of an “official document” to the families of those who died of COVID-19.

Earlier this month, the Supreme Court had pulled up the Central government over delay in framing guidelines for issuance of certificates for COVID-related deaths, and set a September 11 deadline.

“We passed the order a long time back. We have already extended the time once. By the time you frame the guidelines, the third phase will also be over,” Justices MR Shah and Aniruddha Bose had observed on September 3.

The government on Saturday evening filed a detailed affidavit before the top court.

The government has specified that deaths occurring due to poisoning, suicide, homicide and deaths due to accident, among others, will not be considered as COVID-19 deaths, even if COVID-19 is an accompanying condition.

According to the guidelines, if a patient dies within 30 days from the date of testing or from the date of being clinically determined as a COVID-19 patient, it will be treated as deaths due to COVID-19, even if the death takes place outside the hospital or in-patient facility.

Also, a COVID patient who is admitted to a hospital or in-patient facility for over 30 days and dies subsequently will be treated as a COVID-19 death.

The guidelines also state that only those COVID-19 cases will be considered which have been diagnosed through RT-PCR test, molecular test, rapid-antigen test or clinically determined through investigations at a hospital or in-patient facility by a treating physician, while admitted at hospital or in-patient facility.

Patients who 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,” the guidelines read.

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