April 12, 2021 8:58:02 pm
The Gujarat High Court bench, headed by Chief Justice Vikram Nath, on Monday pulled up the state government over the Covid-19 situation in the state and said it was “ill-prepared” to handle the surge, especially when new mutant variants of the virus were detected and “people were dying even after completing vaccination”.
It directed the state government to set up additional infrastructure and augment testing at the fastest possible pace. The court also noted that the state did not have enough beds to cater to Covid-19 patients in case of a further spike in cases.
Hearing a suo motu public interest litigation on Covid-19 – the second such PIL after April 6 when the HC had suggested the government to consider imposing a curfew for a short period to contain the surger – Chief Justice Nath said Monday it appeared the state government had “stopped making any further efforts” after the Diwali surge “not realising that world-over second and third phases (waves) were already troubling other European countries, the US, Africa, Brazil, everywhere…”. He said, if every Covid-19 patient were to be admitted to a hospital “there would not be enough beds”.
Advocate General (AG) Kamal Trivedi, appearing for the state, told the court that testing was “satisfactory” and Gujarat had seen a “phenomenal rise” in testing with 1.50 lakh tests being conducted across 93 laboratories per day. Forty more laboratories would be added, the AG said.
“(In) June last year, mortality rate was 6.16 per cent… Since last one week, cases have gone up as a result of which deaths have increased. (But) Mortality rate since last one week has been less than one per cent,” the AG informed the court.
The bench also sought to know why RT-PCR test reports were “delayed by five to seven days for a common man”. “Earlier, test reports would come in eight-12 hours… You don’t have the infrastructure to carry out more tests,” the bench noted.
While the AG said blamed the masses, saying “many undergo tests unnecessarily”, the bench said: “Nobody wants to do it (get themselves tested) voluntarily, there is no fun in it, spending Rs 800 for it.”
The court observed, “Testing has to happen at the fastest possible pace, the sample collection as well as the reports. Whatever exercise the state has to do for that, it should be done… There are towns, and talukas, where there are population of lakh or more and there, are no RT-PCR centres… The very myth that Covid-19 had gone (ended) in January and February, has put us into a lot of difficulty… Facilities should have been made… Every day, a new mutant (variant of the virus) is coming. The vaccination is not helping, people with double dosage of vaccine have also been tested Covid-19 positive… One of your decorated IPS officers passed away (after taking two doses). Of course, vaccination is going to help, but it is not a fool-proof safe.”
Trivedi told the court the state currently had 71,021 beds across 1,127 dedicated Covid-19 hospitals as on date, of which 141 were in Ahmedabad. As on Sunday evening, 5,022 of the total 6,283 beds were occupied in Ahmedabad, the AG informed the court.
Trivedi further submitted that “this particular strain showed more vulnerability towards west (part of Ahmedabad) as compared to the east. In the east, many hospitals are empty. In the west, the affluent class do not think of going to Covid-19 centres, they prefer to be treated at home…”
When the bench enquired why there was a queue of “40 ambulances” outside the Covid-19 hospitals with if there are sufficient beds, the AG said there was a preference among the people for some specific hospitals for treatment. “People insist on certain hospitals… even when there are other equally good hospitals available… We are trying to generate awareness,” he added.
The chief justice, however, said he had “personal information” that “hospitals have refused admission at night even though they had beds available”. The AG admitted that it was “quite possible” and such incidents may have occurred.
Gandhinagar employee death
Referring to the death of one Ashwin Kanojia, 52, a resident of Gandhinagar circuit house staff quarters, whose body was found from the toilet of the GMERS hospital two days after he was admitted in the Covid-19 ward of the hospital and nearly 24 hours since he went missing, the AG said the incident “was blown out of proportion in the press as if hospital people were at fault”.
“Each hospital is giving a chair with a bed-pan fitted… Nevertheless, when I want to go to toilet, I will not use the bedpan-fitted chair because of social taboo or whatever… I will like to walk… Any responsible doctor advises, whenever you feel fatigued…don’t exert yourself…despite this, this gentleman (Kanojia) went to the toilet with his mobile, (and) locked the door… When cleaners went to clean the toilet, they thought somebody is inside (and) let us not disturb (him)… Ultimately, it was realised he was dead inside the toilet. Now, who can be blamed for that? It is destiny my lord. No one can say the hospital staff is at error,” The AG said.
If for two days, the AG said, Kanojia’s bed was vacant, “why did you not inquire? The answer was, normally in an arrangement like this, the nurse to bed ratio is 1:3… And the nurse gets changed after some time and they are not supposed to enter the room unless they are called… This was blown out of proportion in the press as if hospital people were at fault, they were careless, negligent… It was nothing but an accident, a sorry accident… This can happen with anybody and everyone should be careful”.
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