New Delhi: The Centre has written to all states and Union Territories stating that smartphones and tablet devices should be allowed for hospitalised COVID-19 patients so that they can interact with family and friends through video conferencing, which would provide them psychological support.

Though mobile phones are allowed in hospital wards, the missive was issued following some representation from the kin of patients alleging otherwise.

Director General of Health Services (DGHS) in the health ministry Dr Rajiv Garg in the letter to the principal secretaries of health and medical education of states and Union territories said appropriate protocols for disinfecting devices and allotting time slots can be developed by the hospital concerned to facilitate contact between patients and their family.

He underlined that administrative and medical teams should be responsive to the psychological needs of patients admitted in COVID-19 wards and ICUs of various hospitals.

"Social connection can calm down patients and also reinforce the psychological support given by the treating team. Please instruct all concerned that they should allow smartphones and tablet devices in patient area so that the patient can video conference with their family and friends," stated the letter issued on July 29.

"Though mobile phones are allowed in the wards to enable a patient stay in touch with his or her family, we received representations from the patient families from some states stating mobile phones are not being allowed by hospital administrations because of which they were not being able to stay in contact with the patient," said Dr Garg.