Delhi HC asks Centre, Delhi govt to 'keep a tab' on number of COVID-19 cases
The Delhi High Court has directed the Centre and Delhi government to keep their hand on the pulse and keep a tab on the number of cases of COVID-19 while hearing a plea prayed for allowing more private hospitals in the national capital to treat coronavirus patients. The plea also called for allowing more pathological laboratories in the city for testing COVID-19 suspects.
Division Bench of Justice Hima Kohli and Justice Subramonium Prasad, while disposing of the petition stated, "As of now Court is of the opinion that no interference is warranted in the matter. However, both, Union of India and the Delhi government are directed to keep their hand on the pulse and keep a tab on the number of cases of COVID-19 that, as we understand have spiked in Delhi in the past 48 hours so that facilities both at hospitals and pathological laboratories are proportionately increased, as per the requirement of the patients."
The petitioner, Dr N Pradeep Sharma, through his counsel Advocate Harsh Sharma had submitted that as per the recent reports in the press, there are approximately 10,000 patients of COVID-19 in Delhi alone, but there are not enough hospitals for providing medical facilities to the citizens. He submitted that while many government hospitals have been designated as COVID hospitals, it is necessary that in the present circumstances, private hospitals should also be designated as COVID hospitals for treating patients suffering from the infection.
He pointed out that the Delhi government has granted permission to a few private hospitals like Fortis Hospital at Shalimar Bagh, Saroj Hospital at Rohini, Khushi Hospital at Dwarka, Cygnus Hospital at Safdarjung Development Area, Batra Hospital at Tughalqabad, Sir Ganga Ram City Hospital, Maha Durga Charitable Trust Hospital, Max Hospital at Saket and Apollo Hospital to deal with COVID-19 patients, but they will not be able to cope up with the entire load.
Advocate Harsh Sharma during argument submitted that the respondent, GNCTD, has given permission to private pathological labs including Lal Path Lab, Genestrings Diagnostics Centre, Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, BL Kapur Memorial Hospital, New Delhi, Oncquest Labs, Dr. Dang's Lab, Apollo Indraprastha Hospital, Lifeline Laboratory and Superspeciality Hospital, Saket to collect and test the COVID-19 samples, but again, the aforesaid facilities are not sufficient in view of the spike in cases in Delhi.
Additional Solicitor General Advocate Maninder Acharya, appearing for the Union of India, submitted that the relief in the present petition is primarily directed against the respondent, GNCTD. However, the Government of India does lay down the norms for all the state governments that are required to be followed for declaring a hospital as a COVID hospital and ICMR has also laid down guidelines for permitting private pathological laboratories to undertake tests for COVID-19 suspected persons, he said.
Advocate Anuj Aggarwal, counsel for the respondent GNCTD, submitted that he has received instructions from RN Das, Medical Superintendent, Nursing Homes, Directorate of Health Services, who has forwarded him the revised guidelines for home isolation for very mild/pre-symptomatic COVID-19 cases issued by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India on May 10.
He further submitted that as per the revised guidelines, very mild/pre-symptomatic patients can go into self-isolation if they have adequate facilities at their residence and only if serious signs or symptoms emerge as specified in the guidelines, should the patient be taken to a hospital.
Further, he referred to the guideline for setting up isolation facility/wards to deal with COVID-19 outbreak, as issued by the National Centre for Disease Control. The said Guideline directs that at the state level, a minimum of 50 beds isolation ward should be established and at the district level, a minimum of 10 beds isolation ward should be established.
Counsel for Delhi government further submitted that as of now, Lok Nayak Jai Prakash Naryan Hospital with 2,000 beds and Rajiv Gandhi Superspeciality Hospital with 500 beds, have been designated as COVID hospitals. Besides them, nine private hospitals referred to have also been designated as COVID hospitals for treating patients suffering from COVID-19. This does not include those who are in self-isolation in terms of the guidelines dated May 10 issued by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India.
The Delhi government also added that, at this stage the petitioner states that there are three other government hospitals that have been declared as COVID hospitals in terms of the Notification dated April 30, i.e., GTB Hospital, Deendayal Upadhyaya Hospital, and Dr Baba Saheb Ambedkar Hospital. It also clarified that the aforesaid hospitals were earlier designated as COVID hospitals, but subsequently, they have been removed from the list of and presently, only two hospitals, Lok Nayak Jai Prakash Naryan Hospital and Rajiv Gandhi Superspeciality Hospital have been designated and about 2,500 beds are available in two hospitals, which will bring the existing strength of beds in all the designated COVID Hospitals to about 3,150.
The lawyer also mentioned that there are 13 government pathological labs and 15 private labs in Delhi that are permitted to test COVID-19 suspected persons.