Coronavirus in Mumbai: BMC says will allow patients to directly receive their COVID-19 test reports

Mumbai: The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation, in accordance with the direction issued by the Supreme Court on Friday, will allow patients to directly receive their Covid-19 test reports. Dr Daksha Shah, deputy executive health officer, BMC, said "We will follow the direction issued by the SC and the reports will be sent directly to the patients. But admitting patients will be done according to the standard operating procedure of the BMC. A patient's report should be relayed to the warroom set up in every ward, which will decide who needs to be isolated or home-quarantined."

An investigation by the BMC had revealed violation of the rules issued by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) rules by 35 private hospitals in Mumbai, which had been admitting asymptomatic Covid-19 patients, leading to a crisis of beds for severe Covid cases. Accordingly, the civic body had revised its testing protocols earlier this week, prohibiting laboratories from sharing corona-positive reports directly with patients. However, on Friday, the Supreme Court asked the Maharashtra government to review this order. The apex court also ordered private labs to inform patients or their close contacts directly, following complaints by doctors’ associations.

Civic officials said this BMC decision had been in line with the ICMR guidelines, which clearly stated that asymptomatic positive patients shall not be allotted beds in Covid hospitals viz. DCHCs (Dedicated Covid Health Centres) and DCHs (Dedicated Covid Hospitals). This was done to prevent asymptomatic positive patients from walking into these hospitals and getting admitted, thereby depriving symptomatic patients on the list from getting Covid / Covid ICU beds.

“It was learnt that patients, after receiving reports directly from the laboratories, many of them asymptomatic, out of fear and anxiety, were rushing to hospitals to get admitted. This in turn, had an adverse impact with regard to symptomatic patients who were part of the line-list to get beds allocated in private hospitals,” reads a clarification issued by the civic chief.

However, on Friday, the SC bench headed by Justice Bhushan asked the state government to review the order, observing it was strange on the part of Maharashtra government to bar persons from receiving results of the Covid-19 test directly.

Doctors and health experts have welcomed the move of the SC, stating it was much-needed, as it concerns the health of patients requiring emergency care. Moreover, the BMC should keep a watch on the working of private hospitals, which are admitting asymptomatic patients in violation of the ICMR rules, said medical experts.

“It is known that the BMC is taking all necessary steps to cure cases and help citizens in need of treatment, but changing the testing protocol will not help them. They should set up Covid desks at private hospitals, where the reports of prospective Covid patients will be checked to decide whether that patient should be admitted to the hospital concerned or be shifted to the nearest Covid Care Centre or be allowed home isolation,” said Dr Rahul Ghule, founder of the one-rupee clinic initiative, to provide medical treatment to the public and accident victims at crowded railway stations.

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Free Press Journal