Doctors attend to patients at a Covid ward, in Kanpur on Saturday.(PTI)
Doctors attend to patients at a Covid ward, in Kanpur on Saturday.(PTI)

Covid-19 positive report not must for hospitalisation: Centre

Health ministry tells facilities to ensure that even outstation patients aren’t denied oxygen and medicines.
By Anonna Dutt, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
UPDATED ON MAY 09, 2021 01:14 AM IST

People with Covid-19 symptoms will not need a positive test report, an identity card or an address proof to get admission to hospitals, health centres, or Covid care centres, an admission policy released by the Union health ministry said on Saturday.

While there was no Covid admission policy of the central government previously, hospitals required a Covid-19 test report before admitting patients for treatment of the infectious disease. A patient with “steady” symptoms of Covid-19 does not need an RT-PCR test report to get admitted at a hospital in Delhi, the city-state’s government recently told the high court.

As per the central government’s policy release on Saturday: “Requirement of a positive test for COVID-19 virus is not mandatory for admission to a COVID health facility.” Patients without a test report can be admitted to wards meant for suspected Covid-19 cases.

The Union health ministry’s discharge policy, which details the level of care patients need, mentions a “confirmed Covid-19 case” with mild symptoms can be taken care of at Covid care centre established in hostels, hotels, stadiums, etc., and those with moderate symptoms are to be admitted for oxygen beds, wit severe cases requiring proper hospital care.

Also read | Need 26 million more Covid-19 vaccine doses for Delhi: Arvind Kejriwal

Faced with a big surge in Covid-19 cases and delays in getting RT-PCR reports, Delhi earlier directed its hospitals not to refuse admissions for the want of a report if a person had Covid-19-like symptoms.

The new policy by the Centre also directs all hospitals to ensure that patients with the viral infection are not refused oxygen or other essential medicines just because they belong to a state other than the one the facility is located in. “No patient shall be refused admission on the ground that he/she is not able to produce a valid identity card that does not belong to the city where the hospital is located,” the policy said.

The new policy also states that the admission should only be based on need. “It should be ensured that beds are not occupied by persons who do not need hospitalisation.” It reiterates that patients with moderate disease must be discharged 10 days after the onset if they are symptom-free or three days after resolution of symptoms and the ability to maintain oxygen saturation for three consecutive days. The patients with severe disease can be discharged only after clinical recovery and a negative RT-PCR test.

At a meeting of a high-level group of ministers on Saturday, Union health minister Harsh Vardhan said that 1.34% of the Covid-19 patients were in intensive care units, with 0.39% on ventilators. Around 3.70% of the Covid-19 patients were on oxygen support, according to the government’s data.

“With the surge in cases, people might not be able to get their RT-PCR reports for three to four days. So, this admission policy is important for ensuring that their treatment is not delayed. If a person has low oxygen saturation, high-grade fever, and is not able to breathe properly, it is a sign that they have Covid-19 and they should receive treatment as such. And, in the middle of a pandemic, not everyone needs to be tested, they are presumed to have the infection,” said Dr Lalit Kant, former head of the department of epidemiology at the Indian Council of Medical Research.

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