Stating that the State and Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) must take all plausible steps to lessen the time required for making COVID-19 test reports available, the High Court of Karnataka on July 20, 2020, instructed the state to issue instructions to laboratories and hospitals to notify those taking the swab test about their duty to start home isolation until the report is issued.
A division bench consisting of Chief Justice Abhay Oka and Justice Alok Aradhe observed:
"As observed on an earlier date, there is a time gap between a person getting intimated of tested positive and visit of paramedic and a team of BBMP at his residence. This time is very crucial as delay can result in the spread of COVID-19. This will be so in case of the asymptomatic patient because he may not be in home-quarantine after he submits his sample for test. State and BBMP must ensure that time lag between the test report and visit of the BBMP team is curtailed to the minimum."
In addition, it also said-
"After a person receives a report or SMS that he is tested positive, considering the state of mind of such a patient, he needs to be informed immediately what action he is supposed to take. He must be informed that in case he is asymptomatic and does not have the facility of home isolation he can go to private CCC. In case his condition requires admission to hospital he has freedom of approaching private hospitals the list of which is available on the portal of BBMP He should also be informed that any event team of BBMP will visit his residence."
Perusing the circular that was issued by the state government with regards to facilities required for home isolation the bench said-
“In very few cases ideal isolation facilities will be available to a person who has tested positive. If a person who is having ILI symptoms test positive, continues to stay at home which is not suitable as an isolation facility, he may become a source of spreading infection of the virus. This grey area has to be addressed by the State and BBMP A person who goes to the testing center and falls in category B is immediately advised home quarantined. If the home does not qualify for home isolation, he should be moved to CCC. Considering a large number of cases which are reported in the city, the state should take appropriate steps to curtail the time limit for test results.”
The state government, in its submission that was written, contended that it has put out notice under Section 24 (F) of The Disaster Management Act, 2005 mandating private hospitals to reserve 50 percent beds for State and BBMP that must be used for treating COVID patients. However, the court mentioned-
"The said order does not deal with the issue of denial of admission to Covid-19 patients on beds which are not reserved for state or BBMP State will consider whether such directions can be issued to private hospitals in relation to beds which are not reserved and available to COVID-19 patients subject to payment of charges. State to consider whether a direction can be issued to private hospitals not to deny admission to any Covid-19 patient if beds are available and if the person is willing to pay charges"
The bench directed the government to issue an order that states that private hospitals cannot refuse treatment to non-COVID patients unless they bring a test report of the COVID-19 test.
The bench directed the state to look into the report submitted by the District Legal Aid Services Authority about the non-active CCC in the city. The bench furthermore ordered the BBMP to place on record, steps taken to address the issues with regards to not providing safety equipment to Pourakarmikas. 23 Pourakarmikas have tested positive in a random checking done in one ward and till now five have passed away due to the virus.
The court will continue hearing the matter on July 23, 2020.