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Wednesday, June 23, 2021

Night curfew in Gujarat to curb Covid spread ‘not enough’, High Court tells govt

The court also noted the state government’s May 3 affidavit was “lacking in various points and directions” that was given to it by the HC in an order dated April 27.

By: Express News Service | Ahmedabad |
Updated: May 6, 2021 5:26:51 am
Police personnel stop people during a night curfew, amidst spike in coronavirus cases, in Ahmedabad. (PTI Photo)

Measures like night curfew and shutdown of commercial activities are “not enough” and “further steps to break the chain” of Covid-19 infection are required, the Gujarat High Court told the state government Tuesday during its hearing of a suo motu public interest litigation on the surge in the cases of the viral disease and its management.

The court also noted the state government’s May 3 affidavit was “lacking in various points and directions” that was given to it by the HC in an order dated April 27.

While refraining from passing any directions, the HC asked the central and state governments to submit date-wise oxygen demand and its distribution among a slew of other details before it by May 10. The court is expected to hear the matter next on May 11.

The division bench of Chief justice Vikram Nath and Justice Bhargav Karia has sought from the state government data on the distribution of oxygen supply and details on how its supply from other alternative sources are being augmented. The court has also sought details of the date-wise demand and supply of oxygen for the last two weeks, besides the projected demand and the measures for meeting out such demand in the next two weeks.

It has also sought “details with regard to the distribution of Remdesivir injections district wise for the last 30 days”, information on when the 2.30 crore vaccine doses for the 18-44 age group would be received from manufacturers as well as the plan for vaccination of all the citizens above 18 years.

The order, made public Wednesday, also notes while the state has taken steps, like imposing a night curfew imposition, among others, “the same is not enough in the present situation and further steps to break the chain (of infection) is also required to make the public at large aware about the pandemic and its grave effect on the society by imposing further restrictions, as may be thought fit in the present situation”.

“We refrain from giving any direction or suggestion in this regard, as it is for the state to take appropriate steps keeping in mind the welfare of the public at large. If such actions are not taken, preventing the people to get together or from moving from one place to another unless and until it is inevitable, the chain would not be broken and the public at large would be the sufferer,” the order notes.

The Gujarat government Tuesday extended the night curfew, from 8 pm to 6 am, to seven more cities to curb the spread of the coronavirus disease. Currently, 36 cities are under such restrictions.

The court has sought the state to place on record the operation details of the 72 RT-­PCR machines in the various laboratories and data on the increase of RT-­PCR facility in each of the districts placed together. The next affidavit, the order notes, must also include the progress on operationalising RT-PCR testing capacities at the remaining 21 of the total 26 universities, as has been designated for the purpose by the state government.

The bench has also made it clear that it expects the state “to provide clear and transparent data with regard to the availability of RT-­PCR test, as well as, facility at the district-level”.

After senior advocates Percy Kavina and Shalin Mehta and advocate Amit Panchal highlighted the mismanagement — lack of basic facilities such as hygienic bathrooms and lack of ward boys — at the recently inaugurated 900-bed Dhanvantari Covid Hospital, a collaborative initiative of DRDO and Gujarat University, the court sought the state to make the details available for the steps taken for redressal of the complaints. It also suggested the state “should also come­ out with data and details with regard to the plan of making the 900-bed Dhanvantari hospital operational”.

The bench, which had expressed Tuesday displeasure over the lack of real-time update on hospital beds data across the state, especially in the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation area, has recorded in its order that the state “should place on record the details with regard to…real-time updation of the availability of the beds in each hospital of the state for Covid-­19 patients on the web portal and the efforts made for the same by the state to co­ordinate between all the hospitals of the state for the same”.

Apart from the details sought from the state government, the court has also directed Additional Solicitor General to Gujarat HC Devang Vyas to file a status report on the various issues that are being handled by the central government, including oxygen and Remdesivir allocation to states.

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