Non-COVID-19 health care rules issued in April: Centre to HC

(Eds: Repeating after dropping two words in intro) Mumbai, Jun 2 (PTI) The Union government told the Bombay High Court on Tuesday it had laid down detailed guidelines for all states to ensure emergency and critical care health services for patients suffering from non-COVID-19 ailments remain functional during the lockdown.

Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Anil Singh, who appeared for the Union government, told the court the Centre had issued a set of guidelines as early as on April 15 to ensure all health services remained functional and available during the nationwide lockdown that came into force in March- end.

Singh told a bench the guidelines ensured health services, dispensaries, hospitals, vet hospitals, and manufacturing units of drugs, medical devices, among others, remained functional to ensure uninterrupted emergency health services and medicines for those suffering from critical illnesses other than COVID-19.

The bench consisted of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice AA Sayed.

Singh made the submissions while the court was hearing a bunch of Public interest Litigations seeking directions to the Centre and the Maharashtra government to provide medical facilities and treatment for patients suffering from illnesses other than COVID-19 whose outbreak triggered the lockdown.

'The Delhi High court has been hearing a similar matter for non-COVID patients and we submitted the guidelines and steps taken by the Centre there. The guidelines issued by the Centre were placed before the Bombay High Court too,' ASG Singh said.

'We submitted that the Centre is committed to providing uninterrupted health care services to all patients suffering from critical illnesses.

'All state governments have been directed to implement the guidelines issued by the health ministry on April 15 and the Bombay HC appreciated our efforts,' he said.

While the HC is likely to continue hearing these pleas on Wednesday, it made an oral suggestion to the Maharashtra government, asking if all municipal corporations could come up with an 'emergency helpline number akin to the BMC's 1916 helpline number' for information on available beds, ambulances for both COVID and non-COVID patients, said advocate Ankit Kulkarni, counsel for one of the petitioners.

Senior counsel Mihir Desai, another advocate for the petitioners, urged the court to direct the BMC (Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation) to ensure screening for COVID-19 for all frontline health workers.

Desai cited an order passed by the Nagpur bench of the HC on Monday, directing the Indian Council for Medical Research to come up with guidelines for periodic testing for COVID-19 for all frontline workers in the Vidarbha region who were in direct contact with coronavirus patients.

Desai said similar orders must be passed for frontline workers in Mumbai too.

The HC will consider all the aforementioned issues on Wednesday. PTI AYA BNM RSY RSY