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Gujarat Govt Should Not Feel Shy Of Publishing Correct COVID Data: Gujarat High Court Stresses For Transparency

Lydia Suzanne Thomas
16 April 2021 2:18 PM GMT
Gujarat Govt Should Not Feel Shy Of Publishing Correct COVID Data: Gujarat High Court Stresses For Transparency
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Stressing the need for transparency in the publication of testing data and availability of amenities in relation to COVID-19, the Gujarat High Court underscored that transparent and honest dialogue by the State would generate trust amongst general public. In six important directions, the Gujarat High Court has called upon the state to reveal essential data relating to the...

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Stressing the need for transparency in the publication of testing data and availability of amenities in relation to COVID-19, the Gujarat High Court underscored that transparent and honest dialogue by the State would generate trust amongst general public.

In six important directions, the Gujarat High Court has called upon the state to reveal essential data relating to the COVID-19 situation in the state and for a transparent dialogue with the public to foster trust.

The Court's order comes in a suo moto case initiated by it to take stock of the COVID-19 situation in the State.

A Bench of Chief Justice Vikram Nath and Justice Bhargav Kania heard the matter yesterday.

On government data on those testing positive, which the Court orally observed yesterday was not matching up with those actually found to be infected with the virus, the Court opined,

"The State has nothing to gain by hiding real picture and hence suppression and concealment of accurate data would generate more serious problems including fear, loss of trust, panic amongst public at large".

The Court also said, "The State should not feel shy of publishing the correct data of RTPCR testing results, if such figures are not being correctly reported"

The Court went on to enjoin, "The State should publish data by making efforts to find out actual number of Covid positive cases so as to remove general conception from the minds of the people that data given by the State is not accurate."

With reference to the facilities available with the state, the High Court emphasized that the State must come up publicly in a transparent and fair manner with complete details.

If there was a shortage of material, facility, or infrastructure, this was to be accepted by the State publicly and remedial steps taken immediately to improve the situation, the Court exhorted.

Again, the Bench declared that the State should take up the onus of declaring the accurate data so as to "eliminate others from propagating the same with spice (spite) and causing panic amongst the people."
Pointing out that public communication about the availability of infrastructure, medication and treatment would ease people's concerns and reduce hoarding and sales of medicine at a higher price. The State was not expected to provide all essential infrastructure, medication and treatment facilities at once, the Court said, "but if the people are taken into confidence with regard to the efforts being made by the State to take care of the people suffering from the pandemic, the people at large would definitely cooperate and appreciate the efforts being made by the State."

On this count, the Court directed,

It is only when the State declares that it has requisite essential infrastructure, medication and treatment facilities available with supporting infrastructure, then only the rush for acquiring medicines, hoarding of medicines, buying medicines at higher price, exploitation by the unscrupulous sector would be stopped. The State should also make endeavour to make public the efforts which are being made and the time which may be taken to provide essential infrastructure, medication and treatment facilities in view of rising number of Covid patients.

"At the same time, the honest and transparent dialogue by the State would generate trust amongst general public so as to know the grave situation prevailing at the current times which may persuade the public at large to strictly abide by the standard protocol of wearing mask, keeping social distance, sanitization by frequent hand washing, etc.", the Court opined.

Other Directions

Apart from these, the Court also issued these directions to the State to inform it of steps in achieving the following:

i) Setting up of such laboratories in all the districts where it is not available, also in the towns / talukas and tribal areas of the State as early as possible. For this, public-private partnership or any other modes may be explored which may encourage setting up of such laboratories throughout the State.

(ii) Existing capacity for RTPCR testing time for collection of sample and getting the report ready after analyzing the sample. The delay in getting an RTPCR sample being collected and the further delay being caused in getting the report, may be forthwith reduced.

(iii) Accurate reporting of RTPCR testing with correct figures of positive results be made public. The State should not feel shy of publishing the correct data of RTPCR testing results, if such figures are not being correctly reported.

(iv) Communication of use and scope of Remdisivir injection to the public at large by the experts of the subject in the State through print, digital and electronic media. "Otherwise so long as the myth continues, Remdesivir injection will always be in a deficit and being misused by black marketeers and hoarders. Such an exercise would also reduce the over prescription and undue prescription of the said injection.", the Court said.

(v) The online portal giving details of the availability of vacant beds and occupied beds under different categories for Covid patients for all districts be controlled by the State. Instead of data being uploaded twice a day, the availability of beds should be displayed on a real time basis on the portal i.e. as soon as a bed is occupied in a particular hospital, the number of vacancies should go down and as soon as a bed is made available by discharge of a patient in a particular hospital, the number of vacancies should be immediately displayed as increased. This will save a lot of hardship to the patients as also their attendants and family members in reaching the right hospital may be of choice for admission and treatment rather than running, waiting and again running to different hospitals.

(vi) The availability of oxygen would be sufficient to cater to the demands within three to four days in view of the efforts to procure the same by the State. The status of availability of oxygen vis- a- vis demand be reported to the Court.

(vii) Statement by responsible officer of the State with regard to the number of positive Covid patients, number of deaths due to Covid and number of deaths due to Covid with comorbidity so that faith and trust can be restored in the minds of public at large.

Click here to read/download the order




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