Suspected COVID-19 patients, ranging moderate to severe categories, cannot be denied admission by any hospital in Delhi, according to an official order released on Saturday.
The decision comes in the wake of several complaints that people showing symptoms of coronavirus infection are not allowed to get admitted in various facilities.
The new order, issued by Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Saturday, prohibits hospitals from denying admission to patients suspected of having the coronavirus infection.
Earlier on Saturday, the chief minister had assured citizens there was no shortage of hospital beds in the capital for Covid-19 patients even as he lashed out at private hospitals for indulging in “black marketing of beds” and charging patients lakhs of rupees.
Several people had taken to social media to complain that they have been unable to get their relatives tested at Delhi hospitals or get them admitted. Kejriwal said his government has taken note of the matter and decided to deploy medical professionals at each private hospital to keep a tab on available beds.
According to the order, all hospitals operating in Delhi, whether run by the city government, Centre, local bodies, the army or private facilities, shall ensure no patient who has COVID-19 symptoms and falls in moderate or severe category is denied admission on the pretext that he or she does not have a coronavirus test report.
The directions have been given to medical superintendents, medical directors and heads of various facilities in Delhi.
The order says all such patients can be kept in COVID-19 suspected patients area till their test reports are received. Kejriwal also shared a copy of it on Twitter.
"Accordingly, if found positive, then he/she shall be kept in a COVID hospital or shall be transfer to a non-COVID hospital for further management," it said.
Kejriwal earlier said the Delhi government will depute medical professionals at all hospitals who will update the availability of beds for coronavirus patients on an official app and ensure the admission of such patients.
Kejriwal in a virtual media briefing said his government will issue an order that no hospitals will refuse admission to suspected COVID-19 patients and that it will be their responsibility to test and treat such persons. He also dismissed claims that COVID-19 tests have been stopped in Delhi, and asserted that the number of tests conducted in the city is the highest in the country.
Most private hospitals in Delhi are good but some of them are demanding money for beds, which is nothing but "black-marketing", Kejriwal said.
"We will take strong action against such hospitals and they cannot refuse patients. Some time will be needed to break the mafia who are indulging in it. These few hospitals have political approach but they should not be under the illusion that their political masters can save them," he said.
The government is talking to the owners of private hospitals to determine their problems in reserving 20% of their beds for COVID-19 patients, he said, adding that private hospitals are a critical part of Delhi's health infrastructure and the Delhi government acknowledges their role.