The civic body in Gujarat’s Ahmedabad city on Wednesday withdrew its rule that a coronavirus patient has to arrive in the government-run 108 ambulance service to get admitted to a hospital for treatment, PTI reported.

On April 26, had reported that several designated Covid-19 hospitals in Ahmedabad were not admitting patients who arrive in private vehicles. Those arriving by autos, private vehicles or other private ambulances were asked to come in the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation-run ambulance service to access triage and treatment. Triage is the process of examining patients and determining who gets priority for treatment based on the the severity of their condition.

The triage service is inevitably forced to pick and choose among patients with severe symptoms of the coronavirus, forcing many patients to either wait for as many as 10 or 11 hours before they can get an ambulance, or choose another mode of transport to get to a hospital. Besides, Ahmedabad city has just 120 ambulances under the centralised service, with thousands of residents calling each day.

The move to withdraw the rule restricting hospital admission to those coming in 108 ambulances came after the Gujarat High Court directed the state government to admit all patients to hospitals.

A division bench of Chief Justice Vikram Nath and Justice BD Karia questioned why the civic body was ignoring patients coming to hospitals in private vehicles. “We are not saying that the government is not doing anything or the [Ahmedabad Municipal] Corporation is not doing, but the manner in which it is being done is not satisfactory, not transparent, and therefore all these problems are arising,” the bench had said on Tuesday. The court was hearing a suo motu public interest petition on the coronavirus situation in the state.

The judges said doctors cannot refuse to attend to a patient who has not come in civic body-run ambulance and let him die. “Everybody has to be attended irrespective of which vehicle he has come from,” the court added.

After a high-level meeting on Wednesday, the civic body said, “starting Thursday, the city’s Covid-19 hospitals will admit patients on the basis of their need, irrespective of whether they arrived on ‘108’ ambulances, private ambulances, private vehicles, or on foot.”

The Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation also directed private hospitals to allocate a minimum 75% of beds for coronavirus patients. In another decision, the civic body also withdrew its previous order that made Aadhaar card with an Ahmedabad address mandatory for admissions to hospitals.

Also read: Why is Gujarat forcing hospitals to only accept Covid-19 patients coming through ‘108’ ambulances?