NEW DELHI: The Centre on Tuesday directed states to ensure that hospitals keep functioning and do not insist on COVID-19 tests for every patient before providing them other services after it received complaints that several private hospitals across the country are either shut or refusing to admit critical patients.
In a letter to state chief secretaries, Union health secretary Preeti Sudan said the government had received reports that many private hospitals are hesitating in providing critical services such as dialysis, blood transfusion, chemotherapy and institutional deliveries even to their regular patients either due to fear of contracting virus or because they are not functioning.
“It is also noticed that at many places, the hospitals/clinics are insisting on Covid-19 test before providing services,” the letter stated.
The letter also said for those who need critical services, it needs to be ensured that all the health facilities, especially those in the private sector, should remain functional during the lockdown and provide services to needy patients.
The Centre also made it clear that the coronavirus testing should be carried out only under the Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR) protocols which allows testing of those who have a history of international travel and develop symptoms, close contacts of those who have tested positive, healthcare workers treating the COVID-19 patients, hospitalised patients of severe respiratory illnesses and individuals with influenza-like symptom in hotspot areas.
“Instead, the healthcare providers may be advised to take necessary precautions for personal protections as per ministry’s guideline,” the health secretary said.
The letter referred to the guideline issued to states on April 20 which had said there should not be disruption in essential health services such as reproductive and child healthcare, immunization, communicable diseases such as TB and leprosy and non-communicable diseases such as cancer and kidney ailments requiring dialysis.