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Karnataka HC reiterates order to clear Covid-19 tests in 24 hours

"We are not taking up the matter because the person concerned was an employee of this court. We are worried about the non-implementation of the orders of this court and the lives of the citizens,'' the bench headed by Chief Justice Abhay Sreeniva Oka stated.

By: Express News Service | Bengaluru |
May 14, 2021 1:13:23 pm
Karnataka covid tests, Karnataka Covid test results, Covid-19 tests in Karnataka, Karnataka HC on Covid tests, Karnataka news, Bangalore news, Indian expressThe HC has asked the state to provide a district wise chart of bed availability and future requirements by May 18. (PTI)

The Karnataka High Court has reiterated an order asking the state government to provide Covid-19 test results within a span of 24 hours following the death of a court staffer who provided a sample for testing on May 10 but was not reportedly given information of a positive test result until May 12 (when he died).

“We direct that the state government shall again issue a direction to all the laboratories to ensure that such incidents are not repeated and test reports are made available within 24 hours,” a Division Bench of the High Court said Thursday while ordering action against authorities involved in the delay of communicating the court staffer’s test report.

“We are not taking up the matter because the person concerned was an employee of this court. We are worried about the non-implementation of the orders of this court and the lives of the citizens,” the bench headed by Chief Justice Abhay Sreeniva Oka stated.

The court reiterated its earlier order for providing test reports within 24 hours after being informed of the death of a court staffer S V Muniraju, 45, whose swab was collected on May 10 at the C V Raman General Hospital and sent to a laboratory at the hospital the next day.

The high court took on record the test report of the staffer and found that the swab was collected at 11 am on May 10 and the laboratory received sample nearly 22 hours later at 9 am May 11 and the samples was tested at 1 pm on May 11 and the Covid 19 positive result was reported at 1.45 pm on the same day.

“The members of the registry have learnt that till the time of his death the test result was not communicated to the deceased. There is a direction issued by this court that test results should be informed to the concerned individual within 24 hours from the collection of the swab sample. So, this may be a case where though the sample was collected on 10th May 2021 at 11.06.53 hours, but till his death yesterday, Sri S.V.Muniraju was not communicated the test result. Thus, he could not take treatment for Covid-19,” the high court has stated.

“We direct the state government to initiate appropriate action in accordance with law against all concerned who are responsible for this lapse and place on record a report on the action taken on the next date,” the bench said on Thursday.

The high court bench which has been hearing Covid-19 related matters since the first wave last year earlier on Wednesday directed the Karnataka government to come up with a plan to handle the third wave which has been predicted by experts. The bench said “it is high time the state starts preparation to deal with the possible third wave of Covid-19 by making an estimation of the requirement of beds, oxygen, drugs, medical personnel etc”.

“The pandemic of Covid-19 is a disaster within the meaning of the Disaster Management Act, 2005. The said Act contemplates preparation of various plans at various levels for ensuring state of preparedness for dealing with possible disasters. Necessary action plan and vision document shall be placed on record by the state government within a period of two weeks from today,” the high court said in its order on May 12.

On Thursday, Karnataka Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa said the government “is setting up a task force for preparedness for a probable third wave of COVID 19 under the chairmanship of Dr Devi Prasad Shetty, Chairman, Narayana Health.” The high court has noted that the availability of beds for Covid 19 patients in Karnataka and Bengaluru has not come up to the mark even as cases have been in the 40,000 range for days.

“In the written submissions, the state government has stated that in the entire state, 45,754 beds supported by oxygen, 5,305 ICU beds and 4,019 beds with ventilators were available as on 5th May 2021. However, the requirement projected by the central government is 66,333 oxygen supported beds, 13,969 ICU beds and 8,382 ventilator beds. Thus, generally, it can be said that there is a huge shortage of beds at the state level,” the HC said.

“As far as the area covered by the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) is concerned, the learned counsel appearing for BBMP states that at 2.45 pm today (May 12), 49 HDU beds, 16 ICU beds and 7 ICU beds with ventilators were available. Thus, the situation in the city of Bengaluru regarding availability of beds continues to be very critical especially when every day 15,000 and more positive cases of COVID-19 are detected in the city,” the HC pointed out.

The Karnataka government has claimed that there is marked improvement in the number of beds in the state since the start of the first wave in March 2020.

“Last year in March the Department of Health and Family Welfare was having only 1970 oxygenated beds, 444 ICUs and 610 ICUs with ventilators. The infrastructure has been ramped up. Now the department is having more than 24000 oxygenated beds, 1145 ICU beds, 2058 ventilated beds and 1248 beds with HFNCs,” the government said Thursday.

The HC has asked the state to provide a district-wise chart of bed availability and future requirements by May 18. The court has also sought a report next week on the investigation carried out into a BBMP bed allotment scam by a police team working under the Joint Commissioner of Police (Crimes).

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