Himachal Pradesh High Court on Friday directed the government to increase the number of ventilators and beds in the Covid-19 hospitals and health centres in the state in view of a sudden spurt in cases at Indira Gandhi Medical College, Shimla. The court also passed orders asking the government and its health agency to increase the distribution of oxymeters to Covid-19 patients.
An unusual spike in fresh cases in the state has caused alarms bells ringing among the health agencies and also patients suffering from co-morbidities. One hundred people died of Covid-19 in the past fortnight.
A division bench of Chief Justice L. Narayana Swamy and Justice Anoop Chitkara passed the orders taken up suo moto by the court on the basis of media reports relating to IGMC Hospital Shimla running short of beds. The court, in its earlier order, had issued a notice to the state government and had directed it to submit replies.
In compliance to aforesaid orders, Advocate General Ashok Sharma submitted that proper treatment was being given to the Covid-19 patients across the state and patients are not facing any hardship. He provided the district-wise/hospital-wise vacancy positions of beds in different Covid-19 hospitals/medical colleges in the state.
He also informed the court that the total number of vacant beds for patients in dedicated Covid care centres in all the districts, viz Bilaspur, Chamba, Hamirpur, Kangra, Kinnaur, Kullu, Lahaul & Spiti, Mandi, Shimla, Sirmour , Solan & Una are 2,401 whereas the total isolation beds (including ICU beds) in dedicated Covid care centres are 2,583.
At the same time, the amicus curiae also informed that providing adequate medical services to the people was the constitutional obligation of the state. Only short-term economic gains cannot be allowed to endanger long-term public health as he said suggested regulations of entry of tourists and outsiders into the state. He also gave suggestions on increasing testing and contact tracing; online training and protocols to help impart training to frontline workers.
The court observed that sufficient ventilators are not being provided to dedicated Covid-19 hospitals in the state. These need to be increased because in certain districts like Bilaspur, only four ventilators have been provided while Sirmaur received only one.
The total number of cases in Himachal Pradesh has already exceeded 28,000 and number of deaths reported was 414.