Centre issues guidelines for ‘Covid death’ certificate after Supreme Court’s order.

Representative Photo.

The Centre issued simplified guidelines for the issue of official documents to family members of the patients who died due to Covid-19. The guidelines were framed in compliance with the directions passed by the Supreme Court’s judgement.

The Union Government was given a “last opportunity” till September 11 to submit a report on the issuance of death certificates for Covid-related deaths and to frame a national insurance scheme for disaster-related deaths by the Supreme Court, on September 3.

The June 30 order had also directed the Centre to frame guidelines for the payment of ex-gratia compensation for Covid-19 deaths under the National Disaster Management Act 2005.

If it (NDMA) fails in not providing an ex-gratia amount of compensation, then the NDMA has failed in discharging its statutory duty.

The Supreme Court

The Centre presented an affidavit before the court and according to the affidavit, the deaths occurring due to poisoning, suicide, homicide and deaths due to accident among others will not be considered as COVID-19 deaths, even if the patient suffered from COVID-19.

According to the guidelines issued in the affidavit, deaths that occur within 30 days of testing positive for Covid-19 are to be treated as ‘deaths due to Covid-19’ even if the patient dies inside the hospital or outside the hospital.

“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 & 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 Guideline stated.

However, if a patient dies due to poisoning, suicide, homicide, accident etc. then it would not be considered as Covid-19 death even if Covid was an accompanying condition, as per the guidelines.

A copy of the affidavit further stated that the Office of the Registrar General of India (ORGI) has also issued a circular on September 3 to mention the cause of death as COVID-19 on the Medical Certificate. The Court said that such guidelines may also provide remedy to the grieving family members of the deceased who died due to Covid-19 for correction of the Medical Certificate of Cause of Death/ Official Document issued by the authority.

The guidelines also stated that in cases where MCCD is not available or the next of the kin of the deceased is not satisfied with the cause of the death given in the MCCD, the states and the union territories shall notify a committee at the district level.

The Committee would consist of an Additional District Collector, an Additional CMOH or head of department of medicine of a medical college, a chief medical officer of health (CMOH) and a subject expert, they will issued the “Official Document for Covid-19 Death”.

The next hearing in the court is scheduled for September 13, 2021.

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