The Karnataka government on Saturday decided to withdraw a controversial June 27 order, which barred disclosure of Covid-19 test results to patients, following widespread confusion in Bengaluru over hospitalisation of people who tested positive but did not have copies of test results.
Helplines for moving Covid-19 patients, or people suspected to be infected, into hospitals for care was also introduced on Saturday as the state authorities took measures to deal with a jump in cases.
The bar on test reports being disclosed to patients was introduced after confirmed cases in Bengaluru rose, and a single-day high of 918 cases were reported on June 27, creating a surge in people trying to find hospital beds. It was intended to facilitate a centralised bed allocation system.
But many patients brought to hospitals after being informed by officials that they had tested positive were denied admission since they were not provided copies of the test report.
“The notification issued on June 27 has been withdrawn with immediate effect. However, all government and private laboratories should upload the details of Covid-positive and negative test cases to the ICMR portal daily,” according to a notification issued on Saturday.
Last week’s order, issued by director of health and family welfare services Dr Om Prakash Patil, stated, “Covid positive test result status should not be revealed to the individual by the authorities of the government/private laboratories by any means.” Labs must upload test results to ICMR portal and details must be given only to state officials, it stated.
The order was widely criticised by medical professionals and experts.
The government also announced two helplines: 108 to access ambulances and hospital beds, and 1192 for grievances of denial of hospital admissions. “There should not be any unfortunate cases of denial of treatment,” the health department stated. The helplines have been created following deaths last week of two men aged over 50 in Bengaluru — one of them was suspected of having contracted the infection and another was a person who had waited for two days for a hospital bed after testing positive.
“As the number of cases in and around Bengaluru are rising, shifting of COVID 19 positive cases / serious COVID suspect cases (swab given, but result awaited) / or SARI cases to appropriate medical facility and ensuring that they are admitted and treated properly is of paramount importance,” Saturday’s circular quoted Health Secretary Jawaid Akhtar.
Besides moving patients to hospitals and between different levels of care and treatment centres , the 108 Arogya Kavacha helpline will also facilitate hospital admission of people with symptoms indicative of Covid-19 infection before a test.
The circular asks all patients facing breathing distress to call the toll-free 108 ambulance service. “On receiving the call, 108 will quickly ascertain if the patient is COVID-positive or is COVID suspect (using sample referral form (SRF) lD, provided by ICMR) and then move him/her to nearby treatment facility…” it stated.
The 1912 helpline “should receive grievances related to denial of admission in hospital/CCC for Covid-19 patients or SARI patients,” it said.
On Saturday, 1,839 confirmed cases were reported in Karnataka, including 42 deaths — a single-day high for the state since the first case was detected on March 8. The majority of cases were reported from Bengaluru, where daily numbers crossed the 1,000 mark for the first time — 1,172 fresh cases and 23 deaths were reported from the city on Saturday.
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