All deaths, irrespective of comorbidities, will be classified as COVID-19 death, the Centre told the Supreme Court.
“All deaths with a diagnosis of COVID-19, irrespective of co-morbidities, are to be classified as deaths due to COVID-19. The only exception could be where there is a clear alternative cause of death, that cannot be attributed to COVID-19 (e.g. accidental trauma, poisoning, acute myocardial infarction, etc), where COVID-19 is an incidental finding.” the MHA stated in the affidavit.
The affidavit mentioned that the guidelines used for classifying COVID-19 deaths in India were prepared by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR).
“The guidelines clearly state positive deaths, implicate deaths related to COVID-19. Further, these guidelines are in sync with the WHO Mortality Coding”, said the affidavit.
On May 24, the top court had suggested there must be a uniform policy and also some guidelines for issuance of death certificates for those affected with Covid-19. A bench comprising Justices Ashok Bhushan and M.R. Shah had said many a time reasons given in a death certificate can be a heart attack or lung failure, but these could be triggered by Covid-19. The bench asked Centre’s counsel, “So, how are death certificates being issued?”
In the affidavit, the ministry of health clearly described the between ‘death audit’ and ‘death certification’. The aim of the former is to identify and correctly classify all deaths due to a medical condition (e.g., COVID-19) and to eliminate any discrepancy in coding so as to obtain true estimates of the burden of COVID-19 deaths. In the case of ‘death audits the administration tries to identify the frailties in the system which caused the deaths of patients in an effort to improve quality of healthcare services to minimise future deaths.
Meanwhile, Centre has also told the SC that he finances of states and Centre are under severe strain, due to the reduction in tax revenues and increase in health expenses on account of the coronavirus pandemic. And Rs 4 lakh compensation can’t be paid to all those who died due to Covid-19 as it would exhaust the disaster relief funds, and also impact the Centre and states’ preparation to address future waves of COVID-19.
India on Sunday reported 58,419 new COVID-19 cases as 1576 more patients succumbed to the coronavirus in the last 24 hours, Union Health and Family Welfare Ministry said.
India’s overall tally of Covid-19 cases now stands at 2,98,81,965 with 3,86,713 deaths so far.
According to the Health Ministry, a total of 87,619 people have been discharged in the last 24 hours, with 2,87,66,009 being cured of Covid to date.