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RT-PCR Tests Not Being Done At Desired Rate; Illicit Trade Of Remdesivir Injection: Patna High Court Expresses Serious Concern Over Covid Management In Bihar

Akshita Saxena
20 April 2021 8:41 AM GMT
RT-PCR Tests Not Being Done At Desired Rate; Illicit Trade Of Remdesivir Injection: Patna High Court Expresses Serious Concern Over Covid Management In Bihar
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The Patna High Court has expressed concern over the manner in which the State has been handling the recent surge in Covid-19 cases. Apart from acute shortage of Covid hospital beds, oxygen cylinders, etc., a Division Bench comprising of Justices CS Singh and Mohit Kumar Shah noted that the State is not even keeping vigil on people travelling from outside the State, who may be...

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The Patna High Court has expressed concern over the manner in which the State has been handling the recent surge in Covid-19 cases.

Apart from acute shortage of Covid hospital beds, oxygen cylinders, etc., a Division Bench comprising of Justices CS Singh and Mohit Kumar Shah noted that the State is not even keeping vigil on people travelling from outside the State, who may be potential carriers of the deadly virus.

"Minimum what is expected of the State-Respondents is to take all possible measures so as to ensure that persons coming from outside the State are either made to undergo rapid antigen test or they are able to show on the basis of the test reports available with them that they are not COVID positive. In case a person is found to be COVID positive, steps should to taken to ensure that he can reach a designated place for isolation or treatment with adequate and desired care and caution," the bench ordered on Friday.

The Court was hearing a suo motu case regarding incessant surge in COVID-19 cases and reported deficient healthcare infrastructure in the State.

It has directed the Government to submit a report regarding the available manpower and other infrastructure at COVID Care Centres and Dedicated COVID Health Centres in the State.

Patients running helter-skelter for Covid treatment

It noted on the one hand the COVID patients are running helter-skelter for admission in Covid Hospitals, and on the other hand, the figures presented by the Health Department represent that a large number, rather, most of the beds available for COVID patients are unoccupied.

"No acceptable logic is coming forth to explain this startling phenomenon, as admittedly the patients in the state are being denied admission because of unavailability of beds, though, lack of awareness among affected people about availability of such facilities in all the Districts of the state is being cited as one of possible reasons why there is mad rush to Patna hospitals out of a sense of fury," the Bench observed.

"No Information Available To Public": Patna HC Directs State To Ensure Public Briefing Everyday Disclosing Cogent Covid Related Information To Public

And whereas the Court was informed that a system of daily media briefing, disclosing all relevant information relating to location wise availability of facilities and infrastructure for treating COVID patients has been initiated by the State, in terms of a previous order, the Bench proceeded to observe:

"Respondents have not been able to keep the people of Bihar informed about availability/ non-availability of health care facilities in the State. The State of Bihar is directed to display all relevant information in this regard on a portal dedicated for this purpose."

Shortage of medical facilities

During the course of hearing, it transpired that the RT-PCR tests are not being done at the desired rate.

The Court has been informed that on an average 40,000 RT-PCR tests are being done in the State of Bihar per day. It was submitted that there are 18 laboratories in different medical colleges in the State which have the machines to conduct RT-PCR tests. In addition, five private laboratories have been granted permission to conduct such tests.

"The State Government is directed to ensure that at-least in these three districts, namely, Motihari, Purnia and Munger, the laboratories start functioning to enhance the number of tests… The Court expects the respondents to step up the speed/pace of RT-PCR tests in the State," the Court said.

Oxygen cylinders

The Bench noted that there is critical shortage of medical oxygen in the State, which is the most essential component for treating COVID patients who require admission. However, as per data of the State Government, huge number of beds are available with oxygen.

"This contradiction has remained unexplained," the bench remarked

It was informed that Government has requisitioned liquid gas from the neighbouring State of Jharkhand and it is also taking sincere measures for installation of Pressure Swing Absorption (PSA) plants in the hospitals.

The Bench has ordered the Executive Director, Bihar State Health Society to submit a report explaining the progress regarding installation of PSA plants. He is also asked to explore the possibility of procuring High Flow Nasal Canula (HFNC) and submit a report inasmuch as the same is reported to be effective in improving oxygenation amongst patients with acute hypoxemic respiratory failure.

CT-Scan & X-Ray

The Bench noted that CT- Scan and X-ray machines are needed for medical evaluation of the health condition of COVID patients and deciding line of treatment in a given situation.

It was informed that the State Government Department has placed orders for acquisition of portable X-ray machines for DCHCs and at-least 20 of them shall be installed within a month.

The Court has directed the State Government to ensure that the portable X-ray machines are positively acquired and installed within the aforesaid period, if not earlier.

In respect of availability of CT Scan machines, the Court was informed that at-least in 16 district hospitals of the State of Bihar, CT Scan machines are available and for 14 other districts Letters of Intent (LoI) have been issued and shall be procured within three months.

The Court has directed the State Government to expedite the procurement process.

Remdesivir injection

The Court has taken judicial notice of acute shortage of Remdesivir injection in the State and its consequent illicit trade in black market at a staggering price.

"This is matter of serious concern and the Court shall be constrained to pass appropriate orders if no befitting action is found to be taken by the State Government in this regard," the Bench said.

Case Title: Shivani Kaushik v. Union of India

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