The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation has barred private laboratories and hospitals from sharing Covid-19 test results with patients if positive. While the move has been widely criticised, civic officials said a decision in the matter was taken to create a uniform system for better coordination and ensure patients get access to hospital beds on time.
A circular issued by the civic body on June 13 stated the test results of patients found positive for the novel coronavirus should be shared by private laboratories and hospitals only with the BMC, which would subsequently inform the patient. Negative test reports, it stated, could be shared with patients directly. It also directs private hospitals, which are testing patients for the virus with the help of private labs, to submit the reports first with the civic body.
Municipal Commissioner I S Chahal had earlier said in a bid to set a uniform system and deal with the panic among patients, private labs will be asked to share the coronavirus test results with BMC first.
As of Tuesday, Mumbai has 60,228 Covid-19 positive cases, while it has reported 5,537 deaths. Only 26,012 or 43.18 per cent of the total are active patients.
Activists have criticised the move saying the procedure would not only increase the health risks of a patient but also enhance the chance further spread of the virus.
“It seems that the civic body wants to delay the treatment due to a shortage of beds. The circular does not say about the time period within which patients will be informed. Also, in case of delay in treatment, if any patient dies then who would be held responsible? The civic body should clarify,” activist Kamlakar Shenoy said.
In several cases, patients had complained that while private labs have been prompt in informing about test results, the civic body had contacted patients after a delay of four to five days.
Civic officials, however, claim the circular seeks to ensure that patients do no panic and start searching for beds on their own. “When private labs give results to patients, they start searching for ambulances and beds. This creates panic. With the new system, the civic body will first make arrangements for the patients after getting details and then they will be moved to those facilities. This will help to tackle panic rush from patients,” a BMC official said.
According to officials, in a few cases patients, fearing they have to be quarantined, have run away on knowing the positive status of the infection. The order seeks to address the problem as well, they said.
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