No hospital can turn away suspected COVID-19 patients: Centre

A Jalgaon-based doctor who suffered high-grade fever and breathlessness was turned away from four private hospitals that demanded the family first get a clearance that he does not suffer from COVID-19

Published: 20th March 2020 06:37 PM  |   Last Updated: 20th March 2020 08:04 PM   |  A+A-

Coronavirus, Chennai

Passengers wear masks at Chennai airport on Friday.(Photo | Ashwin Prasath, EPS)

Express News Service

NEW DELHI: With reports pouring in of people with symptoms of novel coronavirus being denied admission by private hospitals in many parts of the country, the Centre on Friday said that no hospital -- public or private -- can turn away suspected COVID-19 patients.

All hospitals in the country have also been asked to set apart some beds and create isolation facilities.

On Thursday, the case of a Jalgaon-based doctor, who suffered high-grade fever and breathlessness and was turned away from four private hospitals that demanded the family first get a clearance that the patient does not suffer from COVID-19, evoked sharp reactions on social media.

Due to delay in the treatment, the doctor, who has no history of international travel and had not come into contact with any known case of COVID-19, is on ventilator support at a government college in Jalgaon.

The Centre has now said that any suspected coronavirus patient should be notified to the National Centre for Communicable Disease or the Integrated Disease Surveillance Programme immediately so that they can be tested for COVID 19.

The latest advisory by the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare also said that non-essential elective surgeries should be postponed and all hospitals should mobilize additional resources including masks, gloves and personal protection equipment.

Healthcare personnel should be trained for dealing with any foreseeable emergencies, the advisory said.

“We have shared the advisory with all states and asked them to get it followed by hospitals across India,” a senior health ministry official said.

The Centre has also directed that hospitals must procure sufficient numbers of ventilators and high flow oxygen masks in preparation for future requirements and all hospitals must ensure that they have adequate trained manpower and resource pools for ventilator and ICU care.

Hospitals have also been asked to ensure that stable patients are discharged as early as possible while further new admissions of non-emergency patients are also restricted and elective surgeries are deferred.

Also, the number of patient attendants should be strictly restricted to one per patient only, the advisory said.

Hospitals have also been asked to carry out a preparedness drill on Sunday, guidelines for which have been issued.

The ministry also said that all hospitals must provide treatment free of cost to any medical personnel who pick up the infection while treating patients.


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