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Decentralise opening of ICUs in state, ramp up daily testing: HC to Himachal govt

The court had earlier ordered the state government to publish on a daily basis the availability of ordinary, oxygenated and ICU beds in various Covid health facilities in the state.

Himcahal covid vaccinationPeople over 18 years of age stand in a queue to get their first dose of Covid-19 vaccine, outside a vaccination center, in Shimla. (PTI Photo)

The high Court of Himachal Pradesh has asked the state government to “accelerate” its fight against Covid by ramping up the daily number of tests and decentralising the opening of intensive care units (ICUs) in the state.

During the virtual hearing of a Public Interest Litigation (PIL), which it had taken up on its own, the court was informed that on average, 14,000 RT-PCR tests are being conducted daily in the state. The court replied that 20,000-30,000 tests need to be conducted on a “war-footing” so those infected with the virus can be tested before the end of their incubation period.

The hearing was also attended by Assistant Solicitor General of India Balram Sharma, who informed the court that the Centre has directed states to convert primary health centres (PHCs) into 30-bedded ICUs with oxygen facilities.

The counsel for the state government, Ajay Vaidya, said some makeshift hospitals with oxygen facilities and 1,000 beds have already been started in Himachal. “It is highly appreciable, but decentralised opening of ICUs by converting primary health centres is of paramount importance,” observed the court, and asked Vaidya to submit a reply about what steps the government has taken for converting PHCs into ICUs.

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The court had earlier ordered the state government to publish on a daily basis the availability of ordinary, oxygenated and ICU beds in various Covid health facilities in the state. According to the latest such data updated by state health authorities, there are a total of 291 ICU beds in the state, of which 217 are occupied.

However, there are no ICU beds in the districts of Kullu, Lahaul-Spiti and Kinnaur, as per the data. The issue of lack of ICU beds in two of these districts was raised in the court by the interveners in the case, and the court has sought the state government’s reply in the matter.

Foreign aid, teleconsultation

Himachal has been receiving a generous supply of Covid relief material from foreign countries as well as domestic organisations, a health department spokesperson said on Wednesday.


He said that supplies such as masks, Favipiravir tablets, gowns and goggles, oxygen concentrators and cylinders, regulators, ventilators, and Tocilizumab have been received from the UAE, UK, Kuwait, South Korea, Singapore, Finland, USA, Kazakhstan, Taiwan, China, Switzerland, Canada, Spain, Egypt, Oman and Australia.

The spokesperson also said that more than 80,000 teleconsultations through the e-Sanjeevani OPD portal have been done in Himachal since the launch of the service. “The government appeals to the public to use the online consultation service from the safe confines of their homes in this time of pandemic and curfew,” he said.

First published on: 26-05-2021 at 06:56:45 pm
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