Delhi High Court has directed 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.
The Division Bench of Justice Hima Kohli and Justice Subramonium Prasad has also directed Indian Council for Medical Research to file a status report indicating the number of applications submitted by accredited labs in Delhi, seeking permission to conduct COVID-19 test and the status of the said applications.
The order has come in a PIL filed by Mr Rakesh Malhotra seeking a direction to be issued to the Delhi Government to ramp up the testing facilities for both the symptomatic and asymptomatic patients of COVID19.
In its status report, the Delhi Government informed the court today that there are 17 labs in the public sector and their current combined capacity for undertaking COVID-19 tests is 2,900 per day. In the private sector, 23 labs have been permitted to conduct the test and their combined capacity of testing is 5,700 per day.
The Petitioner, on the other hand, submitted that the list of the private sector laboratories mentioned in the said status report, is incorrect as the Delhi Government has disallowed about 6 laboratories from undertaking the COVID-19 tests which includes Sir Ganga Ram Hospital.
The Petitioner also informed the court that that there has been a phenomenal spike in the number of cases of COVID-19 in Delhi. Even as per the Delhi Government, it is expected that the cases will rise to 50,000 by 15th June, 2020 and to 5,50,000 by 30th July, 2020.
In order to resolve this controversy, the court directed all the 23 private labs mentioned in the status report, who are stated to be undertaking tests relating to COVID-19, to file affidavits stating as to 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 tapism.
All these private labs are supposed to file the affidavits on or before June 15.
The court observed that:
'It appears that Delhi is fast heading towards becoming the Corona Capital of the country, an epithet the city can well do without. We are of the opinion that it is the need of the hour that all the private hospitals in Delhi, who are equipped with a lab to undertake COVID-19 test, be permitted to do the testing, without any further loss of time. This is all the more imperative as the Delhi Government has directed all the private hospitals in Delhi to reserve 20% beds for admitting COVID-19 patients.'
Click here to download the Order