July 2, 2021 3:00:45 am
Gujarat health department on Thursday filed two affidavits in two separate suo motu public interest litigations, both concerning Covid-19 management in the state.
In one of the affidavits, the health department has said that engaging specialist bonded doctors is a “major challenging task” and also blamed them for pursuing litigation when called for Covid-19 duty instead of helping the state.
The affidavit primarily outlines the state’s preparedness plan for a possible third wave of Covid-19 and submits that the state has published a guidance note for districts and municipal corporations. The affidavit has blamed bonded specialist doctors for going into “litigations on invalid grounds”, instead of serving their bonded term when the state needs them.
Filed by Atul Patel, under secretary of health department, it was submitted that the state had issued orders in May directing such doctors to join in Covid-19 duty immediately. “In spite of the terms and conditions of the bond, neither they have served the government nor deposited the bond amount at the appropriate time. Therefore, the state has initiated legal action against them. When the government is in need for their services in this most crucial stage of the pandemic, instead of helping by providing their services, they go for litigations on invalid grounds.”
To improve the health infrastructure, the state plans to increase the number of total Covid hospitals, including private ones, from 1,800 to 2,400 with an estimated 1.10 lakh oxygen beds, 30,000 ICU beds and 15,000 ventilators as planned capacity. For paediatric care, the state presently has 2,000 beds in government setups, which are planned to be increased to 4,000 “and further the state has also planned to add paediatric ventilators in government,” as per Patel’s affidavit.
The state said that as part of its strategy to tackle a possible third wave, it will also keep a standby arrangement of ready-to-go-hospitals and will deploy early forecasting methods.
For vaccination, the affidavit admits that the state has set a target for vaccination coverage and “aims to cover 80% of 18+ population by the end of September, 2021 for the first dose.”
In a second affidavit filed by Patel in the suo motu PIL which was constituted in March 2020, it was submitted that the state has conducted over 45 lakh rapid antigen tests and 1.57 lakh malaria tests through its Dhanvantari raths initiative. It was also submitted that as of June 28, the state had collected a fine of Rs 253 crore and has registered 37,42,356 offences for mask mandate violations.
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