The government has informed the Supreme Court that the Health Ministry and the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) have come out with guidelines for issuing an "official document" for Covid-related deaths. The affidavit in the top court has been submitted nearly 10 days after the top court rapped the central government over the delay in issuing guidelines for the issuance of Covid death certificates.
Only those COVID-19 cases will be considered, say the guidelines, 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.
Deaths occurring due to poisoning, suicide, homicide and accident, among others, will not be considered as COVID-19 deaths even if the infection is an accompanying condition, the document further elaborates.
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.
According to an ICMR study, says the affidavit, 95 per cent of deaths take place within 25 days of a person testing COVID-19 positive.
"To make the scope broader and more inclusive, deaths occurring within 30 days from the date of testing or from the date of being clinically determined as a COVID-19 case, will be treated as deaths due to COVID-19, even if the death takes place outside the hospital/in-patient facility," it says.
"However, a COVID-19 patient, while admitted at a hospital or in-patient facility, and who continued as the same admission beyond 30 days, and died subsequently, shall be treated as a Covid-19 death," it added.
The guidelines state that in cases where the MCCD (Medical Certification of Cause of Death) is not available, or the family of the dead person is not satisfied with the cause of death given in the MCCD and which are not covered by the above scenarios, states and union territories shall notify a committee at the district level.
The guidelines also mention the procedure to be followed by the committee, which includes the family members submitting a petition to the district collector for the issuance of the document.
The committee will also examine the grievances of the family and also propose necessary remedial measures, including issuance of amended "Official Document for COVID-19 Death" after verifying the facts.
The applications for issuing the document and for redressal of grievances shall be disposed of within 30 days of submission of the application.