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COVID19-Concrete Steps Need To Be Taken By State To Protect People From Onslaught Of Pandemic: Uttarakhand High Court Issues Directions

Sparsh Upadhyay
29 April 2021 4:18 AM GMT
COVID19-Concrete Steps Need To Be Taken By State To Protect People From Onslaught Of Pandemic: Uttarakhand High Court Issues Directions
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Hearing a batch of pleas filed in relation to critical condition prevailing in the State with regard to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the Uttarakhand High Court on Wednesday (April 28) issued the following directions to the State Government. The Bench of Chief Justice Raghvendra Singh Chauhan and Justice Alok Kumar Verma observed that the State was fighting a major war...

Hearing a batch of pleas filed in relation to critical condition prevailing in the State with regard to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the Uttarakhand High Court on Wednesday (April 28) issued the following directions to the State Government.

The Bench of Chief Justice Raghvendra Singh Chauhan and Justice Alok Kumar Verma observed that the State was fighting a major war against the pandemic and that despite the substantial steps taken by the State Government, still certain concrete steps needed to be taken by the State Government in order to protect the people from the onslaught of the pandemic.

State's submission

The State Government informed the Court that the State had taken certain substantial steps.

Firstly, for breaking the chain of infection of COVID-19, a full curfew had been imposed on major cities and towns of the State.

Secondly, the State Government had given sufficient discretionary power to all the District Magistrates to decide the extent and duration of the curfew to be imposed in their respective towns and cities.

During the full curfew, only essential services, and shops, which cater to the essential needs of the people, are permitted to operate; the rest of the shops and services are closed.

In order to solve the problem of dearth of medical staff, the State Government had already requested the UPNL to ensure that even retired Army doctors and nurses could be made available to the State Government in order to strengthen the medical staff.

The State already has three units, which are producing oxygen tanks, there is no dearth of availability of oxygen tanks within the State.

The state was trying its level best to procure a sufficient number of vials of Remdesivir Injection in order to ensure that a sufficient number of medicines are available for public consumption.

Court issues the following directions to the State Government:-

  • Immediately establish such Health Centers/Care Centres in Ramnagar for the benefit of the people of Ramnagar. Since the number of PHCs functioning in the State is only 239, the number of PHCs should be increased in the State to a reasonable number.
  • Immediately examine the number of E-cards, which have been issued to the people under the Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana/Ayushman Bharat Yojana, and to also consider ways and means of increasing the disbursement of such E-cards to the particular category, which is entitled to the said E-cards.
  • Similarly, he is also directed to ensure that E-cards issued under the Deen Dayal Antyodya Upchaar Yojana are increased to the largest extent possible so as to give the benefit of these E-cards to those, who are living below the poverty line.
  • The Director-General, Health should also ensure that private hospitals permit people to take advantage of such E-cards, and private hospitals should treat those persons, who carry such E-cards.
  • Considering a large number of samples, which still need to be tested, and the results need to be declared, this Court directs the State Government to involve all the private hospitals/clinics/laboratories to carry out the Rapid Antigen Test (RAT)/RT-PCR/TrueNat tests.
  • As directed earlier, the number of samples that need to be taken in the large cities like Dehradun, Haridwar, and Haldwani should be increased to anywhere between 30,000-50,000 per day. Keeping in mind the need for collecting the samples, the facility of home collection needs to be increased phenomenally.
  • Until and unless the senior citizens are tested, the extent of the illness amongst the senior citizen population cannot be known.
  • Since there is a dearth of staff, who can carry out these tests, the Government should seriously consider employing the registered final year dental surgeons in order to supplement the MBBS and nurses, who are employed, or who are carrying out the pre-screening tests.
  • It is imperative that the medical staff should be provided with protective gears.
  • A sufficient number of helplines should be established at the district level, and the helpline numbers should be publicized by each District Magistrate immediately through electronic and print media.
  • All the District Magistrates are directed to ensure that complaints of black-marketing of medicines/essential commodities are immediately enquired into. In case black-marketing of medicines/essential commodities is discovered, the District Magistrates are directed to take strict action against such black-marketers in accordance with law.
  • All the District Magistrates are also directed to inquire into the overcharging of the amount by the ambulances for ferrying the dead bodies to the crematoriums. If such overcharging is discovered, immediate action should be taken against the owners of such ambulances in accordance with the law.
  • The Hospitals are directed that before releasing a dead body, where the person had died due to COVID-19, the dead body is wrapped in a bodypack kit, and the SOP for disposal of such a dead body is adhered to by the hospital staff, and by the family members of the deceased.
  • Since media reports indicate that there are long queues of dead bodies waiting to be cremated, the Government is directed to increase the number of cremation grounds by declaring certain areas to be temporary cremation grounds. The State Government is further directed to ensure that a sufficient quantity of wood is available in each of such cremation grounds.
  • The State Government is also directed to look into the issue of registration for vaccination especially for those, who are eighteen years and 19 above. According to the State Government, the vaccination would commence from 01.05.2021 for the said age group.
  • Since people are required to register for the vaccination online, and since there is a difficulty of connectivity in the hilly regions of the State, the State Government is directed to create an alternate method for such registration with the help of the health authorities.
  • Due to the influx of patients in the hospitals and a large number of patients who are quarantined at home, the problem of disposal of bio-medical waste, both in the hospitals and homes, has emerged as a major problem within the State.
  • Therefore, the State is directed to issue guidelines for the disposal of the said bio-medical waste, both by the medical hospitals, and by the individuals at home.
  • Until and unless the biomedical waste is disposed-off in a proper manner, it may itself lead to a wider infection of the disease.

Secretary, Medical Health and Family Welfare, was directed to submit a report on or before 07th May 2021 with regard to the implementation of the directions issued by this Court today, and with regard to the directions issued by this Court by its order dated 20th April 2021.

The matter has been listed for further hearing on May 10.

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