The Central government informed the Supreme Court that the Union Health Ministry and the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) have laid down guidelines for the issuance of "official document" for COVID-related deaths.
The Centre, in a detailed affidavit, mentioned that as per the guidelines, those COVID cases would be considered, which have been diagnosed through an RT-PCR, molecular test, rapid antigen test, or that have been clinically determined in a hospital or in-patient facility by a physician while one is admitted there. The Centre filed the affidavit in compliance with the Supreme Court’s directions concerning the issuance of COVID related death certificates.
The Centre in its affidavit stated that as per the guidelines, deaths occurring due to poisoning, suicide, homicide and deaths due to accident etc, will not be recognised as COVID deaths even if COVID-19 was an accompanying condition. As per an ICMR study, COVID-19 deaths occur within 25 days of a person testing positive but, the government has decided to also consider deaths occurring within 30 days of being infected. According to the guidelines, a COVID patient, while being admitted at a hospital or in-patient facility, and who continued to remain admitted within 30 days, and died subsequently, shall be treated as a COVID death.
The guidelines further state that, in cases where the Medical Certification of Cause of Death (MCCD) is not available or the kin of the deceased is not satisfied with the cause of death given in the MCCD, the states and union territories shall notify a committee at the district level. The kin of the deceased has to submit the petition to the committee, who will examine the grievances. The redressal of grievances should be done within 30 days of submission of grievance.
The Centre had filed the affidavit in compliance with the Supreme Court’s directions, in separate petitions filed by advocates Gaurav Kumar Bansal and Reepak Kansal. The Supreme Court on 3 September had stated its displeasure over the delay in formulating guidelines for issuance of death certificates to the families of those who died of COVID-19 and had directed the Centre to file a compliance report by 11 September.