HC tells Delhi govt to allow equipped private hospitals to test for Covid-19
As Delhi is “fast heading towards becoming the Corona capital of the country,” the high court said all private hospitals which are equipped should be permitted to conduct coronavirus tests.Updated: Jun 12, 2020 08:37 IST
The Delhi High Court on Thursday directed that all private hospitals that have been asked to reserve 20% beds for admitting Covid-19 patients should conduct tests on symptomatic and asymptomatic persons, who seek admission in the hospital for undergoing surgeries and procedures of other nature as well, saying that the city is “fast heading towards becoming the Corona capital of the country, an epithet the city can well do without”.
A bench of justice Hima Kohli and Subramonium Prasad said it was the need of the hour that all private hospitals which are equipped with labs to conduct coronavirus tests and have the sanction of ICMR to do so should be permitted to conduct tests.
The high court also noted that non-Covid patients, who are approaching private hospitals for admission to undergo emergency surgeries and other such procedures, are not being admitted before getting a coronavirus test done, for which they are compelled to go elsewhere.
“It is most unfortunate that non-Covid patients are being made to wait to undergo a test for Covid-19 at labs other than those which are situated within the premises of the hospitals, that is equipped and authorised to conduct the said test,” the bench said.
“In view of the aforesaid situation brought to our attention, it is directed that all the private hospitals in Delhi that have been called upon to reserve 20% beds for admitting COVID-19 patients are equipped with labs to conduct the COVID-19 test and have the sanction of the ICMR to do so, should proceed to conduct tests on symptomatic/asymptomatic persons, who seek admission in the hospital for undergoing surgeries/procedures of other nature as well,” it added.
The order came on the application by advocate Sanjeev Sharma who contended that there have been several instances where non-Covid patients needing surgery or other procedures were asked to undergo testing before that, but the hospital concerned did not conduct the Covid test since they don’t have the government permission.
The application, filed through advocate Rakesh Malhotra, has also sought a direction to the Delhi government and all the hospitals and nursing homes permitted to treat Covid-19 cases to daily publish on their respective websites the status of vacancy of beds so that patients need not run from pillar to post for the same.
Appearing for the Delhi government, its additional standing counsel Satyakam filed a status report stating that currently, there are 17 labs in the public sector and their current combined capacity for undertaking Covid-19 tests is 2,900 samples per day. In the private sector, 23 labs have been permitted to conduct the test and their combined capacity of testing is 5,700 samples per day.
However, the counsel for the petitioner said that the status report is also incorrect as the Delhi government has not allowed about six laboratories from taking up Covid-19 tests. However, the Delhi government counsel disputed this submission stating that the details furnished in the status report have been collated only last night and they are correct.
Following this, the court issued notice to all the 23 private laboratories who are testing samples to file affidavits clarifying whether they have been permitted to undertake tests for suspected Covid-19 patients by adopting the RT-PCR test or the CB-NAAT test.
“They shall also point out the difficulties, if any, faced by them on account of any bureaucratic red tape,” the court added. It also asked the ICMR to file a status report indicating the number of applications submitted by accredited labs in Delhi that had sought permission to conduct Covid-19 test and the status of the applications.
The matter would be heard next on June 18.
Delhi government did not respond to requests for comment.