The Karnataka government on Wednesday issued notices to 18 private hospitals in Bengaluru over the death of a suspected coronavirus patient after they allegedly denied him admission on the pretext of non-availability of beds.

The 52-year-old man, identified as Bhawarlal Sujani, died of influenza-like illness symptoms. According to the standard operating procedure issued by the Karnataka government, people with influenza-like, or ILI symptoms, are to be treated as suspected Covid-19 cases and tested, according to The Indian Express.

Health Minister B Sriramulu in a tweet said the refusal to provide treatment was not only inhuman but also illegal. “Notice has been served to the hospitals taking cognisance of the [media] reports about the denial of admission to a patient in emergency,” he added. The hospitals have been given 24 hours to respond as to why action should not be initiated against them.

The notice was issued by Karnataka’s Commissioner for Health and Family Welfare Services Pankaj Kumar Pandey, under the Karnataka Private Medical Establishment Act, 2007.

It stated that Sujani “succumbed due to the denial of admission by 18 hospitals” and underlined that private medical establishments “cannot deny/refuse/avoid treatment to patients with Covid 19 and Covid 19-like symptoms”. “His [Sujani’s] son, Vikram Jain, and nephew, Dinesh, have stated that Sri Bhawarlal was taken to these hospitals on Saturday [June 27] and Sunday [June 28] for admission on observing some ILI-like symptoms,” it added. “But none of the hospitals admitted on the pretext of unavailability of beds/ventilators.”

This was a “clear violation” of providing medical assistance and admission necessitated under the agreed provision of the KPME registration, it added.