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Saturday, September 18, 2021

Covid death or not: Prodded by Supreme Court, Centre issues rules

Deaths occurring due to poisoning, suicide, homicide, accidents etc will not be treated as Covid-19 deaths even if the virus infection is an accompanying condition, say the guidelines.

By: Express News Service | New Delhi |
Updated: September 12, 2021 9:00:04 am
Relatives of a Covid-19 victim at the Sarai Kale Khan crematorium in New Delhi. (PTI Photo/File)

The Union Health Ministry and Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) have jointly come out with guidelines for issuing “official document” in case of Covid-related deaths.

As per these guidelines, submitted by the Centre to the Supreme Court in a case seeking compensation for Covid deaths, those cases that are diagnosed through an RT-PCR/ Molecular Test/ Rapid Antigen Test, or that have been clinically determined in a hospital or an in-patient facility by a physician while one is admitted there, will be recognised as Covid cases.

Even though an ICMR study shows Covid-19 deaths occur within 25 days of a person testing positive, the guidelines say, the government has decided to consider deaths occurring “within 30 days from the date of testing or from the date of being clinically determined as a Covid-19 case… as deaths due to Covid-19 even if the death takes place outside the hospital/ in-patient facility”. This is being done “to make the scope (of the provision) broader and more inclusive”.

Besides this, “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… has been issued to the registering authority as required under Section 10 of the Registration of Birth and Death Act, 1969, will be treated as a Covid-19 death”.

Deaths occurring due to poisoning, suicide, homicide, accidents etc will not be treated as Covid-19 deaths even if the virus infection is an accompanying condition, say the guidelines.

The Centre conveyed the same in an affidavit filed in compliance of the Supreme Court’s directions, in case of separate petitions filed by Advocates Gaurav Kumar Bansal and Reepak Kansal seeking Rs 4 lakh ex-gratia for Covid-19 victims.

The Court had asked the Centre to come out with simplified guidelines for issue of official documents to family members of Covid-19 victims, which would also help them pursue correction of papers issued by the municipal or other authorities in connection with the death.

At the hearing on September 3, the Court had pointed out that it had given directions on June 30 to simplify guidelines for issue and correction of death certificates/ official documents stating the exact cause of death, that is, ‘Death due to Covid-19’, to enable dependents to get benefits of welfare schemes. It had sought to know what was the delay in framing the guidelines.

As per the guidelines, in case a family is not satisfied with the cause of death given in the municipal certificate, the state or Union territory must set up a committee consisting of officials, medical experts and subject experts.

The Centre informed the Supreme Court that the Office of the Registrar General of India has also issued a circular for provision of a Medical Certificate of Cause of Death to the next of kin of Covid deceased.

Applications for issuing the official document and redressal of grievances are to be disposed of within 30 days of submission, say the guidelines.

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