Oxygen, Beds, Medicines and Mismanagement: High Courts Pull up Centre, States Govts as Covid Rages

·4-min read

The Centre told the Delhi High Court on Tuesday that there is no gap in oxygen supply to Delhi at present and its use has been banned for industrial purposes except for certain industries. The Ministry of Health told the high court that there has been an inordinate increase of 133 per cent in the projected medical oxygen required, as on April 20, between the initial estimate of 300 metric tonnes and revised estimate of 700 metric tonnes submitted by Delhi.

The Centre also informed the high court that it has provided Delhi government hospitals with around 1,390 ventilators. Earlier in the day, a bench of Justices Vipin Sanghi and Rekha Palli had asked the Centre whether oxygen supplied to industries can be diverted for COVID-19 patients.

“Industries can wait. Patients cannot. Human lives are at stake,” the bench said. It said it has heard that doctors at Ganga Ram Hospital were being forced to reduce oxygen being given to COVID-19 patients admitted there as there was scarcity of oxygen.

The ministry, in the affidavit filed through central government standing counsel Monika Arora, has also said that in order to increase the capacity of medical oxygen in Delhi, eight Pressure Swing Adsorption (PSA) Oxygen Generation plants are being installed by the support of PM CARES Funds. “These plants would enhance capacity of medical oxygen by 14.4 metric tonnes,” the ministry’s affidavit said.

Allocate and Divert Resources by Applying Your Mind: Delhi HC to Centre

The Delhi High Court also expressed hope that the Central government was allocating or diverting resources and medicines, like Remdesivir, based on the needs and situation of each state, otherwise “people will have blood on their hands”. “We will be doomed,” a bench of Justices Vipin Sanghi and Rekha Palli said with regard to any non-application of mind in allocation and diversion of resources and medicines.

Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Chetan Sharma and central government standing counsel Moniika Arora told the court that medical opinion was divided on use of Remdesivir. Senior advocate Rahul Mehra, appearing for the Delhi government, told the court that doctors were prescribing Remdesivir and people are unable to get it from the market despite having prescriptions.

“Long and short of it is that it (Remdesivir) is in short supply,” the bench said and added that giving clearance for setting up units to manufacture would not yield quick results as establishing the facilities for manufacture takes time. The observations by the bench came during the hearing of a disposed of petition related to COVID-19 tests and the high court revived it on April 19 by noting that the virus has raised its “ugly head” once again and the pandemic is raging with much greater intensity and “it is evident that the healthcare infrastructure is at the stage of imminent collapse”.

HC Seeks Maha Govt, Centre Response on Covid Mismanagement

The Bombay High Court directed the Maharashtra government and the Centre to respond to a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) alleging mismanagement of resources available to control the COVID 19 pandemic. A city-based lawyer filed the plea citing delays in conducting RT-PCR tests, denial of rapid antigen tests at civic run hospitals without a family doctor’s prescription, the unavailability of beds for COVID-19 patients, scarcity of Remdesivir, oxygen etc.

The bench directed the Centre and the state government to “come prepared with instructions” on Thursday on the issues raised in the PIL.

HC Questions Guj Govt’s Claim About Adequate Beds

The Gujarat High Court questioned the state government’s claim that there were enough beds for COVID-19 patients and sought to know why infected persons were still unable to get admitted, if beds were vacant. In its submission on Tuesday, the state government informed the court that of 79,944 beds at COVID-19 hospitals and other care facilities in the state, 55,783 were occupied, while the rest were vacant.

Government pleader Manisha Shah made the submission during an online hearing on a PIL filed suo moto by the division bench of Chief Justice Vikram Nath and Justice Bhargav Karia on coronavirus situation two weeks ago. “The figures shared by you suggest that even designated hospitals have vacant beds,” the bench told the state. The court also sought to know why critical patients were not taken in by government hospitals, if they came in private vehicles instead of ‘108’ ambulances. In the government’s defence, Shah said that although beds were available at other facilities, some at a distance from patients’ homes, people want to get admitted to specific hospitals, which results in full occupancy in those hospitals.

Read all the Latest News and Breaking News here