Observing that Delhi is fast heading towards becoming the “corona capital of the country– an epithet the city can well do without” – the Delhi High Court Thursday said, “it is the need of the hour that all private hospitals in Delhi equipped with a lab to undertake Covid-19 tests be permitted to do testing, without any further loss of time”.
The HC has impleaded the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) as a party in the present proceedings, so that details of private hospitals authorised by it to undertake Covid-19 tests can be furnished to the court by the next date of hearing on June 18.
“The ICMR, while filing its status report, shall also indicate the number of applications submitted by accredited labs in Delhi seeking permission to conduct Covid-19 test, and status of said applications…,” said a bench of Justice Hima Kohli and Justice Subramonium Prasad during the video-conferencing hearing.
It also issued notice to all 23 private labs stated to be undertaking Covid-19 tests, as per the status report filed by the Delhi government Thursday, to file affidavits clarifying inter alia if they have been permitted to undertake these tests by adopting the RT-PCR test or CB-NAAT test.
It issued the notice after petitioner advocate Rakesh Malhotra said the list of private labs mentioned in the status report is incorrect as the Delhi government had disallowed about six labs, including Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, from undertaking Covid tests.
Delhi government Additional Standing Counsel Satyakam disputed the submission, stating that details furnished in the status report are correct. The bench said, “To satisfy ourselves on this critical aspect, it is deemed appropriate to issue notice to all 23…”
As per government’s status report, there are 17 labs in the public sector and their current combined capacity for testing is 2,900 per day. In the private sector, 23 labs have been permitted to conduct the test, whose combined capacity is 5,700 tests per day.
On the issue that non-Covid patients approaching private hospitals for admission for emergent surgeries and not being attended until they undergo a Covid-19 test, the bench observed, “… It is directed that all private hospitals in Delhi that have been called upon to reserve 20% beds are equipped with labs to conduct the Covid-19 test, and have sanction of the ICMR to do so, should proceed to conduct tests…”
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