Should Covid-19 be recorded as a cause of death?
The Chief Coroner supports the position, communicated by NHS England and the Chief Medical Officer that Covid-19 is an acceptable direct or underlying cause of death for the purposes of completing the Medical Certificate of Cause of Death (MCCD) and is considered a naturally occurring disease. This cause of death alone is not a reason to refer a death to a coroner under CJA 2009.
If the cause of death is believed to be due to confirmed Covid-19 infection, there is unlikely to be any need for a post mortem to be conducted and the MCCD should be issued, and guidance is given on how this is delivered to the Registrar in the event of the next of kin/informant being in self-isolation.
In a hospital setting the MCCD process should be straightforward because of diagnosis and treatment in life. This may be more complex in a community setting. The Coronavirus Act 2020 however expanded the window for last medical review from 14 to 28 days. Outside of this, the death will need to be reported to the coroner.
Although Covid-19 is a naturally occurring disease, there may be additional factors around the death which mean it should be reported to the coroner; for example, the cause of death is unclear, or where there are other relevant factors. Guidance is given to coroners on how to manage such reported deaths, particularly where post mortem examinations may not be readily availability.