The Centre has told the Supreme Court that the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare and the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) had on September 3 jointly issued guidelines for the issuance of an 'official document' for COVID-19 related deaths. In an affidavit filed in the top court, the Centre said, "The office of the Registrar General of India has also issued a circular on September 3 to provide a medical certificate of cause of death to the next of kin of the deceased."
The Centre said the guidelines and the circular have been issued in compliance with the June 30 judgment in the Reepak Kansal vs Union of India and others, and Gaurav Kumar Bansal vs Union of India and others cases.
According to the guidelines, the COVID-19 cases are those which are diagnosed through a positive RT-PCR/ molecular test/RAT or clinically determined through investigations in a hospital/in-patient facility by a treating physician, while admitted to the hospital/in-patient facility.
Deaths occurring due to poisoning, suicide, homicide, and deaths due to accident etc. will not be considered as COVID-19 deaths, even if it is an accompanying condition, it added.
"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 4A 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 Registrar General of India (RGI) will issue necessary guidelines to the chief registrars of all states/UTs," said the guidelines.
The guidelines added that as per the study by ICMR, 95 per cent of deaths take place within 25 days of testing positive for COVID.
"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," the guidelines added.
The guidelines also said that a Covid-19 case, while admitted to the hospital/in-patient facility, and who continued as the same admission beyond 30 days and died subsequently, shall be treated as a COVID-19 death.
According to the guidelines, in cases where the MCCD is not available or the next of kin of the deceased is not satisfied with the cause of death given in the MCCD and which are not covered by the aforesaid scenarios, states and UTs shall notify a committee at the district level.
"The next of kin of the deceased shall submit a petition to the district collector for the issuance of the appropriate official document for COVID-19 death. The official document will be issued in the format annexed to these guidelines by the aforesaid district-level committee after due examination and verification of all facts," said the guidelines.
The Centre said the applications for issuance of official document for COVID-19 death and for redressal of grievances shall be disposed of within 30 days of submission of the application/grievance.
The top court in its June 30 judgment had ordered steps to simplify the guidelines for the issuance and correction of death certificates/official documents related to COVID-19 deaths.
The judgment came on two separate pleas filed by lawyers Reepak Kansal and Gaurav Kumar Bansal seeking directions to the Centre and states to provide Rs 4 lakh compensation to the families of those who succumbed to COVID.
(With IANS inputs)