The Centre informed the Supreme Court that the Health Ministry and Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) have formulated the criteria to issue official death certificates for those who die of COVID-19, reported NDTV. This comes after the apex court reprimanded the government for delay in submitting the official criteria to issue documents for COVID-related deaths.
According to the Centre's proposed guidelines, only those diagnosed with COVID through RT-PCR test, molecular test, rapid-antigen test or were clinically determined through investigations at a hospital or in-patient facility by a treating physician, will be considered for the certificate.
The document further clarified that any death occurring due to, suicide, poisoning, homicide and accident, among others, will not be considered as COVID-19 deaths even if the infection is an accompanying condition.
Any patient who has "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 as reported by NDTV.
As per an ICMR study, 95% of the deaths due to COVID take place within 25 days of testing positive with the infection.
However, to make the process more inclusive and wider, the new criteria will also consider deaths occurring within 30 days from the date of testing or from the date of being clinically determined as a COVID-19 case.
"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," the document added as per NDTV.
Apart from 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.
According to the guidelines, if a family member is not satisfied with the certificate, they will have to submit a petition to the district collector for the issuance of the document, which the committee will investigate further.
The panel's function will include the investigation of grievances by the family and also proposing necessary remedial measures, including the issuance of amended "Official Document for COVID-19 Death" after verifying the facts.