Medical practitioners in Australia have been instructed to record COVID-19 as the cause of death for anyone who dies with a cough, even if they had never been tested for the virus.
The Western Australian Coroner’s Court released a document titled COVID-19 Guide for Medical Practitioners, which provides guidance from the Australian Bureau of Statistics on how to certify deaths due to coronavirus.
According to the document, medical practitioners have been instructed to record COVID-19 as the cause of death for “all deceased where the disease caused, or is assumed to cause, or contributed to death.”
Doctors were advised that COVID-19 can be the “assumed” cause of death, even if the deceased has not been formally tested for the disease, provided the individual showed typical symptoms of coronavirus at the time of death, such as coughing.
The guide states: “Where a person is known to have suffered typical symptoms of COVID-19, such as fevers, cough, or breathing difficulties, during a COVID-19 pandemic, but has not been formally tested or diagnosed, then it is reasonable to ‘assume’ the death was related to COVID-19 and should be recorded on the death certificate.”
The ABS’ Guidance for Certifying Deaths due to COVID-19 also says “ALL decedents” where the disease is “assumed” to have caused death should be recorded as a COVID-19 death.