What is the price of Covid-19 tests? Are they free of cost?

The Government has arranged for free Covid-19 testing at approved laboratories across India. Although the test is not free in private labs and hospitals, the Supreme Court has said that free testing should be done for the poor who are eligible under the Ayushman Bharat Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana. Beneficiaries of this scheme can access free testing in private labs and Covid-19 treatment at government empanelled hospitals.

To get tested free of cost, a person can go to any government hospital. They can get updated information by calling the helpline numbers before getting a test done. Please see here for the list of government and private clinics for testing of Covid-19, as released by the Indian Council of Medical Research.

Can I register for vaccination directly at the vaccination centre?

If you belong to the 18-44 age group category, you might have the option of on-site registration and appointment at Government Covid Vaccination Centers, depending on the decision of your State government. The central government opened the option of on-site registrations because limiting registration to online platforms may result in vaccine wastage and exclusion of those who do not have access to internet and mobile phones. However, this option can be implemented only after approval from the respective State government.

How effective is Plasma Therapy?

The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has removed the use of plasma therapy from the recommended treatment guidelines for Covid-19. Currently, it is advised not to donate plasma for Covid treatment, as it would be of no benefit.

Can I get an abortion during the Covid-19 pandemic?

Yes, you can get an abortion even during the Covid-19 pandemic. The government has declared abortion as an essential service. So, you can get an abortion from registered clinics or hospitals, despite it being a non-Covid health issue.

If I go out during lockdown, will I be fined/ arrested?

It depends on why you are going out. The police cannot arrest or fine you for going out during lockdown for a valid reason. For example, you can go out to buy essentials, in emergency situations, for vaccination, and to travel to the airport or stations, etc. When you go out, you must follow protocol like wearing a mask, social distancing, etc.

You are not allowed to go out for non-essential activities or violate Covid-19 regulations like visiting a movie theatre, taking drives around your house etc. Under Section 269 of the Indian Penal Code, the police can arrest you if you intentionally do any unlawful or negligent act which is likely to spread the Covid-19 infection. The punishment for this is jail time of up to six months and/or a fine.

Further, if you intentionally disobey a lawful order by the police or a government official, and this causes danger to human life, health or safety, you can be punished with jail time of up to six months and/or a fine of up to Rupees one thousand.

Is it legal for a hospital in Delhi to detain a dead person’s body?

No, hospitals cannot legally detain a dead person’s body even if the deceased person’s family is unable to pay the medical bills.

According to the Patient Rights Charter approved by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, hospitals must release the body of a deceased patient despite non-payment of bills. In 2018, a draft Delhi Government advisory, issued by the Directorate-General of Health Services also stated that the bodies of deceased patients could not, under any circumstances, be detained because of the non-payment of bills. The Delhi High Court, in an order in 2017 (Devesh Singh Chauhan v. State and Others), has confirmed this position. However, the remedies for such a violation are not so clear-cut. Some of them include:

  1. Filing a complaint with the police under section 302 of the Indian Penal Code for wrongful confinement (The Patient Rights Charter also refers to this as the basis for the right to receive the body of a deceased patient).
  2. Sending a legal notice to the hospital.
  3. Registering a grievance with the Medical Superintendent of Nursing Homes (The number for the grievance cell for the Directorate-General of Health Services which houses the Medical Superintendent is 22393515.
  4. Writing a letter to the National Human Rights Commission.

What information should a discharge summary contain?

When a patient is discharged from a doctor’s care of a doctor, the hospital must provide them with a discharge summary containing the following information

  • Name and registration number of treating doctor
  • Name, demographic details & contact number of patient, if available
  • Date of admission and discharge
  • Relevant clinical history, assessment findings and diagnosis
  • Investigation results
  • Details of medical treatment
  • invasive procedures, surgery and other care provided
  • Discharge advice (medications and other instructions)
  • Instructions about when and how to obtain urgent care

What is the government doing to keep track of children who have been orphaned due to Covid-19?

The National Commission for the Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) has developed an online tracking portal called “Bal Swaraj (COVID-Care link)” for children in need of care and protection. The portal can be used to track children who have lost both parents or one parent during Covid-19. Further, any authorised officer/department can upload such children’s data to the portal using the “COVID-Care” link.

Through the data entered in the portal by District officers and State officers for each child, the Commission can determine whether:

  • The child is receiving their entitlements, benefits, and monetary gains;
  • The child has been produced before the Child Welfare Committee;
  • Any protective orders have been issued for the child;
  • The State requires financial assistance to obtain additional funds for benefiting children through the currently implemented programmes.

The Supreme Court in “In Re. Contagion of Covid-19 Virus in Children Homes” directed all District officers to submit data on orphaned children on the Bal Swaraj portal under the COVID-Care link.

I have tested Covid Positive recently. Can my family members come to visit me and take care of me?

During lockdown, no one is allowed on the roads unless they have valid reasons like a medical emergency. Since you are Covid-positive and this is a medical issue, your family members can apply for permission to visit you.

Most States have an online portal through which a person can apply for an ePass for getting permission to travel. For States which do not have this system, your family members must first approach the local police and request permission to travel and visit you. If the police approve the request considering your situation, your family members can visit you. While travelling, they must carry the police-approved pass/valid papers showing that they have permission to visit you during lockdown.