HP High court issues various directions to tackle the pandemic

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Photo used for indicative purpose only. Source internet

Shimla May 7, 2021

Hearing a petition on the issue of lack of medical facilities in the State medical colleges and hospitals, the High Court of H.P., has issued various directions to the State Government to tackle the menace of corona pandemic.

The Division Bench comprising Justice Tarlok Singh Chauhan and Justice Chander Bhusan passed these orders on a writ petition highlighting the issue of lack of oxygen facilities at Dr.Y.S.Parmar, Government Medical College, Nahan and non-functioning of 25 ventilators which have been given to the Medical College under HIM Care Scheme.

Expanding the scope of the petition to the entire State, the Court directed the State to increase number of authorized laboratories/clinics/ hospitals to increase testing and to consider sending of fully equipped ‘mobile vans’ also to increase testing and prevent spreading of COVID-19 virus. The Court also directed to resort to the use of other testing kits, besides the Rapid Antigen Kit, or the RT PCR tests. To tackle the pandemic menace likely to increase in the coming months, the Court directed the State to increase the number of dedicated COVID-19 Hospitals and consider the feasibility of establishing temporary hospitals with the help of any other Central agency, so that sufficient number of beds equipped with Oxygen tank and ventilators are available.

The Court also directed to increase the number of ICUs in the hospitals, as the second strain is said to be directly affecting the lungs of the patient. The Court said that until and unless our front line warriors are protected from COVID-19 virus, it will be impossible for us to win the battle against theCOVID-19 virus, so the Court directed the State Government to ensure providing of PPE kits and other protective gears to all the medical staff looking after the COVID-19 patients. For the convenience of the public/patients, the Court directed the State Government to publish the names and locations of the testing centres, Hospitals/Dedicated COVID-19 Health Care Centres in the media bulletin on a daily basis, which should also clearly indicate the availability of total number of beds, vacant beds, beds with ventilators/oxygen cylinders and beds without any oxygen tank/cylinder, in each hospital/Dedicated COVID-19 Health Care Centres. The Court made it clear that in case the private hospitals refuse to cooperate or are reluctant to provide Covid test and covid facilities, then the State Government shall forthwith resort to coercive steps as provided under the Disaster Management Act and also Essential Services Maintenance Act and the State may proceed to take any other coercive or punitive step as may be warranted and otherwise permissible under the law. The Court also directed that the State should also consider purchasing of additional CT Scan Machines in the State, to detect the second strain of Covid-19 virus.

Apart from the aforesaid directions, the Court directed the State to furnish the information regarding available bed capacity exclusively for Covid-19 facilities in the State both in Government and private hospitals alongwith the details of the availability of oxygen (high flow or otherwise). The Court directed the State to give the details of the steps taken and proposed to augment the availability of oxygen meeting both the current and projected requirements. The Court directed to place on record the plan prepared by the State Government under the Disaster Management Act to tackle the Covid-19 cases and steps taken to ensure the availability of essential drugs including Remdesivir, Favipiravir and Tocilizumab amongst other prescribed drugs and the modalities which have been set up for controlling the essential drugs for preventing hoarding and ensuring the proper communication of the requirement at the level of each Districts by the District Health Authorities or the Collectors of the Health Department of the State. The Court directed to furnish the details of the staff alongwith their designation who have been deputed in the Covid hospitals, both Government and Private.

The Court also directed the State to give the details of the steps taken by the Government to comply with the judgment of the Hon’ble Supreme Court in suo motu Writ Petition (Civil)No. 3 of 2021 in Re: Distribution of Essential Supplies and Services during pandemic, dated 30.04.2021.

The Court directed the Secretary(Health), Union of India to furnish the details with regard to distribution of Remdesivir, Favipiravir and Tocilizumab from the Central Government to the State Government up-to-date and reasons for discrimination with the State of H.P. while making allocations of Tocilizumab and allocations of only 3000 Remdesivir vials to the State of Himachal Pradesh in comparison to the States with lesser population and with far lesser Covid- infections. The Court also directed the State to provide details along with data with regard to distribution of the oxygen, demand and supply of oxygen for the last two weeks and further the details proposed to augment the supply of oxygen. The Court directed the State to ensure the uploading of real time data about the availability of beds in each hospital of the State for Covid-19 patients on its Web Portals and also on the Web Portals of all the Hospitals and also physically display the data outside each hospital on daily basis .

As regards the availability of beds in hospital, the Court directed that the following parameters of information must be placed in the public domain by the State Government for all Covid designated hospitals in the State, both public and private through dedicated website and physically outside the hospital. (a)Name and address of hospital;(b) Total number of designated Covid-19 beds;(c) Total number of available designatedCovid-19 beds;(d)Number of beds available in ICUs with ventilators.(e)Number of beds in ICUs without ventilators;(f)Number of general hospital beds available with oxygen; (g)Number of general beds available without oxygen facility.(h)Date and time when this information was last updated;(I)Name and mobile number of the Nodal Officers for admission to the hospital;(j)Link to GPS location of the hospital (only for website). Such information must be updated once every eight hours and it must be ensured that the site is not password protected and does not require any login credentials to view this information.

The Court also directed that State shall also furnish the steps taken regarding the availability of oxygen for those all theCovid-19 patients, who though may in home isolation but require oxygen. The Court said that the experts speculate a third wave and, therefore, the State shall disclose its road-map in case third wave strikes. The Court also directed the State Government to disclose clearly as to from which date, the vaccination programme for the age group between 18 to 44 shall commence.

The Court directed that State shall furnish its stand regarding the importance (if any) of the ventilators in treatment of Covid and how it proposes to put to use the ventilators that are lying idle with the State in various hospitals. The Court directed the State to furnish the complete details regarding the availability of essential medicines required for the treatment of Covid-19 patients, and in case of short-fall, the steps taken in this regard. The Court directed the Secretary(Health), Union of India to ensure the adequate availability of the essential drugs,more particularly, the life saving drugs to the State of Himachal Pradesh and enumerate in detail the steps taken in this regard on or before the next date of hearing.

The Court posted the matter for 10.05.2021.

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