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Delhi high court seeks details of steps for hospitalisation of serious Covid-19 cases

By Rich a Banka, New Delhi
UPDATED ON MAY 27, 2020 11:07 PM IST

Taking suo moto cognisance of a video clip in which a man had alleged that his mother, who was suffering from Covid-19, was asked shift to hospitals, the Delhi high court on Tuesday directed the Centre and the Delhi government to state the arrangements made to deal with serious coronavirus patients who require immediate hospitalisation.

The court sought the status of functional and responsive helpline numbers being operated by them, as many of them were said to be found non-functional.

A bench of justices Vipin Sanghi and Rajnish Bhatnagar said the authorities “should assess the adequacy of the helpline capacity and state whether the same is sufficient to deal with the present call traffic and the traffic expected in the foreseeable future, keeping in view the continuous rise in the number of cases being reported each day”.

“In our view, the helpline numbers of the GNCTD should also provide guidance and information to the caller as to which hospital has beds available for the treatment of serious Covid-19 patients — both in government and private hospitals, particularly in the proximity of the caller patient’s location. The capacity created to deal with calls made on the helpline numbers; the nature of assistance rendered, and; the log maintained for the same, if any, should also be placed before the court,” the bench said in an order uploaded to the website on Wednesday.

The Delhi government’s standing counsel (criminal), advocate Rahul Mehra provided 10 helpline numbers, which include the numbers the caller had dialled, besides an interactive call number — 1031. He said the helpline numbers were found not to be functioning efficiently and instructions had been issued to set the system in order. He said it would be done in the next couple of days.

Appearing for the Centre, standing counsel Kirtiman Singh told the court that number 1075 is an all-India helpline number and about 3 lakh calls have been received on it so far.

Responding to the court’s observations, a Delhi government official said, “We will launch an app later this week. It is expected to further streamline the process”.

The order comes after the court took note of a video by one Deepak Bhardwaj, who had said the deputy medical superintendent of Max Hospital, Patparganj, asked him to arrange a ventilator and bed in another hospital. Bhardwaj’s mother, Shyama Sharma, was admitted to Max Hospital, Patparganj, on May 19 and tested positive for Covid-19 on May 21.

“The patient continues to be under treatment at Max Hospital, Patparganj, and the family is convinced with her course or treatment at the hospital. Since the matter is sub-judice, we would not like to comment any further,” said Max Healthcare in a statement.

In the video clipping, he said he visited several hospitals but to no avail. He alleged he called the Centre’s helpline number — 1075 — multiple times and two of Delhi government’s helplines, but got no response. He said the district surveillance officer also did not respond to calls.

“The patient continues to be under treatment at Max Hospital, Patparganj, and the family is convinced with her course or treatment at the hospital. Since the matter is sub-judice, we would not like to comment any further,” said Max Healthcare in an official statement.

The court said the issues raised in the recording were of public concern in the present-day context. It said a person who, or whose family or friend is found Covid-19 positive, should be able to call the helplines to not only report such an occurrence but to also seek guidance and assistance about hospitals where such patients may be taken.

“The helplines should render meaningful and effective help to the callers. If the experience of Dharmendra Bhardwaj is anything to go by, it appears, this aspect has not been adequately addressed by the respondents,” the court said. The court said the Delhi government should consider providing ambulance facilities to pick up serious Covid-19 patients for hospitalisation.

The bench scheduled the next hearing for June 3.

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