For surveillance purposes, the WHO defines a death due to COVID-19 as a death resulting from a clinically compatible illness, in a probable or confirmed COVID-19 case, unless there is a clear alternative cause of death that cannot be related to COVID disease (e.g. trauma). There should be no period of complete recovery from COVID-19 between illness and death.
In the international guidelines for certifying COVID-19 as a cause of death, certifiers are instructed to record COVID-19 on the medical certificate of cause of death for all decedents where the disease caused, or is assumed to have caused, or contributed to death. When certifying the cause of death, the physician, coroner or medical examiner is asked to report the sequence of morbid events leading to death as well as any conditions that contributed to that sequence. This is meant to reflect their informed opinion and can be reported with a single or multiple causes of death.
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