Delhi High Court
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New Delhi: A WhatsApp video of a man whose mother was denied a bed by a private hospital after she tested positive for Covid-19 has petitioned the Delhi High Court to seek a status report from the Delhi government on the measures it has taken for those who need immediate medical intervention.

A bench led by Justice Vipin Sanghi Tuesday asked both the Delhi government and Centre to also give details of helplines being operated to address queries related to the novel coronavirus, capacity created to deal with calls made on the helplines, the nature of assistance rendered, and the log maintained for the same, if any.

They were also told to check whether the helplines are adequate to deal with the present call traffic, and are sufficient in view of continuous rise in the number of cases being reported each day.

“In our view, the aforesaid video recording raises serious issues of public concern in the present day context. A person who, or whose family or friend, is found Covid-19 positive, should be able to call the helplines to not only report such occurrence, but to also seek guidance and assistance with regard to the hospitals to which such patient may be taken — if hospitalisation is necessary keeping in view the condition of the patient. The helplines should render meaningful and effective help to the callers,” the court said.

Also read: Fans, mosquito nets, pool testing — the plan to get Delhi courts working after lockdown

‘No response’ on helpline

In the order, Justice Sanghi mentioned the WhatsApp video that came to the court’s notice.

The video was shot by one Dharmendra Bhardwaj in which he claimed private hospitals turned down admission to his mother because she was Covid-positive, according to the court order.

The patient was admitted to Max Hospital in East Delhi’s Patparganj area between 19 May and 21 May. But after she was found positive, the hospital’s deputy medical superintendent asked Bhardwaj to arrange a ventilator and bed in some other hospital, the order stated.

Bhardwaj claimed he visited several hospitals, but to no avail. He also called 1075 helpline on several occasions, but got no response. His efforts to reach out to authorities through three more helpline numbers also failed.

During the hearing, Delhi government’s standing counsel Rahul Mehra admitted the two helplines, operated by the Delhi administration, were not functioning efficiently, and instructions were issued to set the system in order. He said this would be done within the next couple of days.

Counsel for the Centre, Kirtiman Singh, submitted that 1075 is an all-India helpline number and about 3 lakh calls have been received on it so far.

Mehra told the bench a mobile application would soon be launched that would give live updates of hospital beds available in government and private hospitals, and other related information.

Delhi govt should provide info about hospital beds

In its order, the court advised the Delhi government to provide guidance and information on their helplines as to which hospital — both government and private — has beds available for treatment of serious Covid-19 patients, particularly in the proximity of the caller patient’s location.

Additionally, it must also consider providing an ambulance facility for pick-up of serious patients for hospitalisation, once a caller reports such a case, in case it is required.  

It was pointed out by the judges that Bhardwaj has maintained a complete record of the calls he made, and that he is willing to share the information regarding his experience.

“The said Mr Dharmendra Bhardwaj expresses his helplessness and anguish, and states that the tall claims made by the Govt. of NCT of Delhi (GNCTD) and the Central Government with regard to adequate arrangements being in place to deal with patients of Covid-19 who require hospitalisation and treatment, are far from true on the ground,” the court recorded in the order.

A transcript of the video will be provided to Mehra and Singh so that they can seek instructions and come back with a response on 3 June, according to the court order.

Advocate Om Prakash has been asked to assist the bench on the next date of hearing on 3 June.

Also read: Delhi HC says can challenge extended Covid quarantine, but asks people not to rush to courts


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