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With COVID 19 cases rising in Delhi and with the testing capacity still low, it is critical to define who have priority in being tested. In this, the Delhi High Court has been hearing a case in which a plea has been filed, seeking direction from the court that test results of pregnant women be given priority.

Petitioner Vaibhav Agnihotri said in an affidavit that while states have said that rapid antigen testing will be done for pregnant women also, their notification doesn’t say that. This creates a problem.

The fact is that hospitals, including private ones, are considering ITPCR tests. As it stands, people are being kept in isolation wards or with other suspected cases, till the result comes. The petition states that this in fact increases the risk of infection. This is especially true for pregnant women.

On the last hearing the Delhi government had told the Delhi High Court that prior COVID-19 test was not mandatory for admitting a pregnant women in hospitals for in-patient interventions, including surgery and deliveries, and in emergent situations. Treatment would not be denied for want of test results.

During today’s (July 8) hearing petitioner Agnihotri insisted that the government comment that testing would be done can be recorded. This is because the official notification does not mention this.

On the time take for the procedure, counsel Shobhana Takiar said 48 hours.

At this Justice Prateek Jalan wanted a clarification: “Does that include the time from test being taken and results being given? We are not talking to you about symptomatic people, we are talking about all pregnant women who need access to health services. For a pregnant woman who has to go have a baby, and needs to give a test before that, she cannot wait for 5-6 days. We need a compressed time schedule.” 

Counsel Takiar said that the alternative was the rapid antigen test, which “will give results in one hour”. 

This did not seem to satisfy the judge. He asked: “But are the negative results from rapid antigen testing being accepted? This is because that was a concern in the last hearing.”

The hearing will resume tomorrow.

-India Legal Bureau

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