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The Delhi High Court was today informed by the Government of NCT of Delhi the use of Rapid Antigen Testing at hospitals has been expanded to ensure availability of quick test results and take care of difficulties being faced by patients, including pregnant women.

A division bench of Chief Justice D N Patel and Justice Prateek Jalan heard the PIL by a lawyer seeking expedient testing and declaration of results and priority to be given to test results of pregnant women.

During the hearing today, Advocate Vaibhav, appearing for the petitioners made the following submissions:

  • Pregnant women are not being given priority in testing.
  • The antigen testing’s, in which the results are received in a few hours are not available to everyone.
  • The regular tests, whose results are received in 3-4 days are mandatory even when a person is found negative after an antigen test. If person is found negative, then he will again be tested in the regular way RTPCR, to rule out infection.
  • Hospitals are still only conducting the regular ITPCR tests, and people are kept in isolation wards or with other suspected cases, till the result comes, which increases their risk of infection.

Adv Vivek Goyal on behalf of ICMR submitted that it’s the Delhi government and not ICMR that decided which patients are to be given priority.

The Counsel for the Delhi government informed the Court that with regard to admission in hospitals for in-patient interventions including surgery, delivery etc., and prior COVID-19 test was not mandatory for admitting pregnant women in hospitals for in-patient interventions, including surgery and deliveries.

It was added that in emergent situations, treatment would not be denied for want of test results, the test would be conducted simultaneously with the treatment and if the result come out to be positive, the pregnant woman would then be transferred to a COVID-19 hospital.

The High Court in its previous hearing on June 22 had observed that 5-7 days cannot be taken for getting COVID-19 results for pregnant women prior to admitting them in hospitals for child-birth. The government had asked the ICMR and Delhi government to expedite it.

The Counsel representing the Delhi government requested the Court for more time to get further instructions to file an affidavit.

The matter will next be listed on July 8.

-India Legal Bureau

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