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Delhi heading towards being 'corona capital' of India: HC on spike in COVID-19 cases
The national capital is fast heading towards becoming the "corona capital" of the country, observed the Delhi High Court while expressing concern over the spike in COVID-19 cases and directed that all private hospitals equipped with labs to test for coronavirus and having ICMR sanction be permitted to conduct the test.
A bench of Justices Hima Kohli and Subramonium Prasad observed that "corona capital" was "an epithet the city can well do without" and said it was need of the hour that all private hospitals equipped with labs to test for COVID-19 be permitted to do so without losing any more time.
According to latest official figures, the total number of COVID-19 cases in Delhi is over 32,000 including 984 deaths. The number of active coronavirus patients in the city is over 19,000. The bench made the observation after it was told by the petitioner that several private hospitals, including Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, have been prevented from carrying out COVID-19 tests.
The Delhi government, represented by its additional standing counsel Satyakam, opposed the submission, saying 23 private labs have been allowed to conduct the tests apart from 17 public sector labs. The bench, thereafter, issued notice to the 23 private labs, mentioned by Delhi government in its affidavit, and asked them to file their replies clarifying whether they have been permitted to undertake tests for suspected COVID-19 patients and by which technique.
"They shall also point out the difficulties, if any, faced by them on account of any bureaucratic red-tapeism," the bench said. It also noted in its order that non-COVID patients, who are approaching private hospitals for admission to undergo emergent surgeries and other such procedures, are not admitted without a coronavirus test for which they are compelled to go elsewhere.
"It is most unfortunate that non-COVID patients are being made to wait to undergo test for COVID-19 at labs other than those which are situated within the premises of the hospitals, that are equipped and authorised to conduct the said test," the bench said.
The high court directed that all the private hospitals that have been called upon to reserve 20 per cent beds for admitting COVID-19 patients, are equipped with labs to conduct coronavirus test and have sanction of ICMR to do so, "should proceed to conduct tests on symptomatic and asymptomatic persons, who seek admission in the hospital for undergoing surgeries and procedures of other nature as well".
It also impleaded Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) in the matter so that details of private hospitals authorised by it to undertake COVID-19 tests can be furnished to the court on the next date, June 18. The high court said that ICMR while filing its status report shall also indicate number of applications submitted by accredited labs in Delhi seeking permission to conduct COVID-19 test and the status of the same.
The order came on the application by advocate Sanjeev Sharma who has contended there have been several instances where non-COVID patients needing surgery or emergent procedures are required to undergo testing before that, but hospital concerned is unable to conduct the test as they are not permitted to do so by Delhi government.
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. The application was filed in the main petition, by Malhotra, which had sought swift testing of COVID-19 cases and declaration of results within 48 hours.
The high court had on May 4 disposed of the petition with a direction to the Delhi government to publish on their websites correct data of tests conducted, number of positive results and pending outcomes. The application has alleged that the high court's May 4 direction was not being complied with properly by the Delhi government.