May 8, 2021 10:37:13 pm
The High Court of Himachal Pradesh has asked the state government to improve its Covid testing strategy by increasing the number of testing centres, introducing mobile sample collection vans, using diverse types of tests and buying more CT scanners.
Hearing a petition on the lack of medical facilities in Himachal, a division bench suggested that the number of authorised laboratories, clinics and hospitals for Covid testing must be increased immediately and the government must consider sending fully equipped mobile vans to various areas to expand testing. The court also directed the government to not stay confined to RT-PCR and Rapid Antigen tests but also use other types of testing kits and buy more CT scanners.
Meanwhile, the Congress has also alleged a lack of adequate testing, especially in rural areas. State political secretary Hari Krishan Himral on Saturday said that urban health centres are being directly affected due to improper testing in rural areas. “People often have to travel here and there to get tested due to which the transmission of the virus is actually increasing,” he said.
Moreover, Himral added, rural health facilities lack sufficient medicines, equipment and staff.
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The HC has also directed the Union health secretary to provide up-to-date details about the distribution of Remdesivir, Favipiravir and Tocilizumab from the Centre to Himachal. The court sought an explanation as to why the Centre discriminated against Himachal by allocating fewer Tocilizumab and Remdesivir stocks as compared to some other states with lesser populations and far lesser Covid infections. Only 3,000 Remdesivir vials have been allocated to Himachal, the court said.
The HC was hearing a writ petition on the alleged lack of oxygen facilities and non-functioning of 25 ventilators at the government medical college in Nahan. Expanding the scope of the petition to the entire state, the court ordered the state government to make public on a daily basis the names and locations of testing centres and covid health centres/hospitals. The total number of beds, vacant beds and beds with ventilators/oxygen cylinders at each of these hospitals/centres must be mentioned, the court ordered.
It further said that in case private hospitals refuse to cooperate or are reluctant to provide Covid testing and facilities, the state government can resort to coercive steps allowed under the Disaster Management Act and the Essential Services Maintenance Act.
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