The Central government has informed 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 issuing an "official document" for Covid-related deaths.
"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 in an affidavit filed in the top court.
The Centre submitted the affidavit nearly 10 days after the top court rapped it over the delay in issuing guidelines for the issuance of Covid death certificates.
As per the guidelines, 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.
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, it further added.
The guidelines stated, “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 affidavit mentioned that 95 per cent of deaths take place within 25 days of a person testing Covid-19 positive as per an Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) study.
It further added, "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.”
"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 said.
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 aforesaid scenarios, states and union territories shall notify a committee at the district level, according to the guidelines.
The family members have to submit a petition to the district collector for the issuance of the document, the guidelines stated.
The Centre added that the applications for issuing the document and for redressal of grievances shall be disposed of within 30 days of submission of the application.