Don't crowd hospitals,Madras HC tells ministers, MLAs Eds:Adds details

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Chennai, May 31 (PTI) The Madras High Court on Monday advised state ministers, legislators and officials concerned not to crowd hospitals with supporters and paraphernalia in the name of checking/improving the facilities available there.

It is alleged that while the ministers and the members of the legislative assembly visited the hospitals, their entourage accompanied them, the first bench of Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee and Justice Senthilkumar Ramamoorthy said.

It is pointed out that the train of supporters do not maintain any of the corona protocols. All concerned, including the hospitals and clinics that the MLAs visit, should maintain the protocol at all times, the judges said.

It sometimes happens that despite the person leading the team advising others not to accompany, the enthusiasm cannot be checked.There may be a need, at times, to restrict the number of persons accompanying legislators and the like while they go on their visits,they said.

The bench was passing further interim orders on the case, which it had initiated nearly a month ago on its own, on shortage of beds, ventilators, vaccines and diversion of oxygen cylinders to other states.

The bench was of the opinion that the second surge of the pandemic has subsided in both Tamil Nadu and neighbouring Puducherry.

Status reports filed today indicated the increased number of beds and ready availability of both oxygen-supported beds and non-oxygen beds, the judges said and hoped additional facilities are not discontinued for the next few months.

The oxygen supplies to the state and the neighbouring Union Territory have been augmented, the bench noted.

The only area of concern appears to be the availability of vaccines and the report filed by the Centre indicates the allotment of vaccine free of cost to the state and the UT an the quantities that they would procure upon payment.

Earlier, the judges also recorded Centre's commitment to ensure that 216 crore doses of vaccine are available by the end of the year.

The target should be met sooner, rather than later, it added.

The bench also observed that the present proceedings, including certain remarks made earlier against the Election Commission and the Centre, were instituted not with the intention of the Court, ill-equipped in such regard as it is, to take over the management of the Covid situation.

It was only to monitor the same and if at all, provide a platform to various stakeholders to come together.

The matter may have served its purpose and in the wake of the second surge being apparently over, except for a few pockets in the State, the matter may be closed, it said.

The several aspects highlighted in the status reports including the availability of beds, supply of oxygen, the augmentation of supply of drugs to deal with mucormycosis and even the capping of the rates to be charged at private hospitals, need to be noticed.

Several suggestions have been made, including that the data should be displayed on the State's website because there is no shame in projecting the figures.

The number of active cases, the number of deaths and other figures should be available on the state's relevant website on an actual basis, it said.

It must also be recorded that there has been no allegation of underreporting of cases either in the State or in the Union Territory, unlike in some other places, the judges said and adjourned the matter till June 7.

Meanwhile, hearing a separate PIL on the need to vaccinate the homeless, the bench said inoculation was a must for protection of others.

'Even if it is for the selfish interest of the rest of the population which may be better placed, it is necessary to vaccinate all, since those who are not vaccinated may be a risk to the others,' they said.

The bench made the observation while taking on file a petition from M Muruganantham, praying for a direction to the authorities concerned to take immediate steps to vaccinate the homeless and to protect them from coronavirus infection, without demanding production of any identity cards and protect their lives. PTI CORR SA BN BALA BN BALA

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