Pregnant women’s request for COVID-19 test should be met immediately and its results be declared quickly, the Delhi High Court told the AAP government on Wednesday.
A Bench of Chief Justice D.N. Patel and Justice Prateek Jalan said there ought not to be any time lag between receipt of request for testing, sample collection and declaration of results.
The court said when pregnant women go for deliveries, they cannot wait five to six days for carrying out the tests and declaration of the results.
“Immediately requests should be accepted and immediately results should be given,” the Bench said.
The Delhi government told the court that as per the advisory issued by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), the tests results would be declared within an hour.
The advisory was however silent on the timeline regarding processing of requests for testing, the Delhi government said, adding that it has issued a notification which states all applications for tests would be processed within 48 hours.
The Bench asked the Delhi government to place the advisory and notification before it and listed the matter for hearing on Thursday, July 9.
The court also asked it whether negative outcome of a rapid test was acceptable or whether an RT/PCR test result also be required before admitting a pregnant woman.
The Delhi government counsel sought time to take instructions on the query raised by the Bench.
The court was hearing a PIL by a lawyer who has sought that test results of pregnant women be given priority.
The high court on June 22 had remarked that 5-7 days cannot be taken for getting COVID-19 results for pregnant women prior to admitting them in hospitals for child-birth and asked the ICMR and Delhi government to look at expediting it.
Thereafter, Delhi government filed an affidavit stating that prior COVID-19 test was not mandatory for admitting 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.
The test can be conducted simultaneously with the treatment and if the result comes out to be positive, the pregnant woman would ideally be transferred to a dedicated COVID-19 hospital for further management, the Delhi government had told the high court.
It had also said that it has “expanded” the use of Rapid Antigen Testing at hospitals to ensure availability of test results in quick time and this will further take care of difficulties being faced by people/patients, including pregnant women.
ICMR, in its response filed through central government standing counsel Vivek Goyal, had said it has issued guidelines for management of pregnant women during the COVID-19 pandemic and there are no restrictions for testing pregnant women for COVID-l9 symptoms.