Steps to issue official COVID death certificate, ex-gratia

Kerala issues orders setting up death ascertaining panels in all districts

Kerala has set in motion the processes for issuing official COVID-19 death certificates and paying ex-gratia for the kin/legal heir of those who died of COVID-19 in the State.

It is expected that the confusions and controversies over the State’s “missing” COVID-19 deaths will be laid to rest once this process is complete.

The State government on Wednesday issued orders that COVID-19 Death Ascertaining Committees (CDACs) be constituted in all districts for the issuance of the ‘Official Document for COVID-19 Death’, in accordance with the new guidelines for declaring deaths due to COVID-19 drawn up by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR).

Inclusive norms

The new guidelines drawn up by the ICMR for determining what constitutes a COVID-19 death is more inclusive and it states that “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. A patient admitted to a hospital as a COVID-19 case and died while in hospital beyond 30 days will also be treated as COVID-19 death.

The next of kin of those who died of COVID-19 can submit a petition to the District Collector for issuance of the appropriate Official Document for COVID-19 Death.

The CDACs will also examine the grievances of the next of kin of the deceased and propose necessary remedial measures, including issuance of amended official document for COVID-19 death, after verifying facts and evidence in accordance with the new guidelines.

From Oct. 10

The grievance redressal system shall be operational from October 10. The government order says that the application for issuance of the official document for COVID-19 death and for redressal of grievance shall be disposed of within 30 days of submission of the application/grievance.

The CDACs will be constituted with the Additional District Magistrate (Additional District Collector), District Medical Officer, Additional District Medical Officer/District Surveillance Medical Officer (DSO-COVID), Head of Department of Medicine of a medical college in the district/DSO (Non-COVID) and a subject expert (head of infectious diseases/public health expert) as members.

The CDACs will examine every application/grievance and issue the official COVID-19 death certificate in accordance with the new guidelines of the Government of India.

Online system

The online system (https://covid19.kerala.gov.in/deathinfo/) for filing request and appeals has already been developed by e-health Kerala and the system is simple and easily accessible to the public.

The new additions to the State’s COVID-19 death count will be shown appropriately against each of the sub-categories as per the additional criteria mentioned in the new guidelines and appropriate statistics will be

maintained in the system.

Families who have already received a COVID-19 death statement of their loved one can also submit through the online system a petition for receiving the official document of COVID-19 death in the new format.

The operational guidelines regarding the processes for the disbursal of ex-gratia payment will be issued separately by the State Disaster Management Department.

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