Agartala: The Tripura High Court has asked the state government to specify the policy in regards to the issuance of death certificates to the families of COVID-19 victims.

A division bench comprising Chief Justice AA Kureshi and Justice Subhasish Talapatra was hearing a suo motu case of the state government’s preparedness on COVID-19 on June 25.

The court said that an area of some concern which is shared by the advocates for the petitioners and which was for the first time previously raised by the amicus curiae is of certification of COVID-19 deaths.

“It was argued that in some cases the death certificates do not clearly indicate that the patient died due to COVID-19. It was correctly pointed out that absence of the certification of a COVID-19 death in the death certificate itself would make the task of the family members of the deceased to receive benefits of the state as well as Central schemes extremely difficult,” the court observed.

The division bench also said, “As we are aware, there are Central as well as state schemes giving certain benefits to the family members of those who died due to COVID-19. Some schemes may come up in future. If the death certificates do not clearly indicate that the person died due to COVID-19, the family members would certainly face an uphill task in claiming such benefits.”

Further, the court posed four questions before the state government seeking the reply before the next date of hearing on July 9.

(1) Whether the state policy mandates indication of COVID-19 death in the death certificate itself whether the patient dies solely on account of COVID-19 infection or coupled with any co-morbid condition?

(2) What is the position of the death certificate issued in cases of deaths which are declared by the state administration as COVID-19 deaths?

(3) Place on record if there is any Central or state government notification or directives in this respect.

(4) What is the position of the state administration if a person who may have recovered from COVID-19 infection but dies shortly thereafter due to post-COVID-19 complications whether coupled with or without comorbidity?

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Regarding the COVID-19 news bulletin, the court observed that though the total tally of persons found positive may appear to have come down by a small margin, much of this must be attributed to the reduced number of samples tested on a given day.

“The positivity rate in the recent past is lingering around 5 per cent of the samples tested. Under the circumstances, we would expect the state administration to continue the vigil to enforce all lockdown restrictions and in particular, as pointed out by learned senior counsel P Roy Barman, ensure that large crowds are not allowed together contrary to the government’s COVID-19 related directives,” the court observed.

The Chief Justice also said that let the state cover as many people as possible under vaccination programme as per the availability of vaccine doses with the state administration which will ensure maximum coverage of vaccination within the shortest possible time. The issue of those who are reluctant to receive the vaccines or are unable to travel to the vaccine centres though willing, will be addressed later.

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