The Uttarakhand High Court on Wednesday issued comprehensive directives on several issues concerning the critical situation arising out of the Covid pandemic. In one directive, the bench suggested that the state employ dental surgeons to supplement the work of overworked doctors.
The bench of Chief Justice Raghvendra Singh Chauhan and Justice Alok Verma was hearing a batch of PILs filed against ths state and the district authorities with respect to the shortage of several essentialities amid the Covid-19 spread.
The court observed that the bench was not limited in aspects of virtual reality but issues that touch ground level. The court also observed that it is the constitutional mandate, and the moral duty of the State to save its people from the pandemic.
In its comprehensive order, the bench directed the state to look into shortage of beds, oxygen, remdesivir, masks, PPE kits, number of testing, black marketing of drugs and over pricing by suppliers and ambulances, SOPs for disposal of body of deceased by the hospital staff and families, issue related to registration for vaccination (COVID) for 18 years and above, E-cards for below poverty line, establishment of Nodal officer in each district, accommodation for hospital staff near campus, lack of cremation grounds etc.
While plying on the PILs and earlier orders, the bench, on an application moved by the counsel for the petitioner Shiv Bhatt regarding the increase in the issuance of E-cards for those who are below the poverty line, directed the Director General (Health Ministry) to immediately examine the number of E-Cards issued to the people under Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojna / Ayushman Bharat Yojna. Further, consider ways and means of increasing the disbursement of such E-cards in a particular category to which they are entitled to.
The bench then directed the DG to ensure that the E-Cards issued under Deen Dayal Antyoday Upchar Yojna are increased to a larger extent to benefit those who are living below the poverty line,
“The director-general hence should also ensure that private hospitals persuade the people to take the advantage of the E-cards and the private hospitals provide assistance to those people who carry such E-Cards,” the bench directed.
The bench bounced back to the issue of number of testing and sample collected, and directed the state government to involve all the private hospitals/clinics/laboratories to carry out the tests (RT-PCR/ Truenat) and as directed earlier the number of samples that needs to be taken in the large cities like Haridwar, Dehradun and Haldwani needs to be increased anywhere between 30000-50000 per day keeping in mind the need of collecting samples. The number of home collections needs to be increased phenomenally.
“Since the staff is outnumbered in doing home collection the government should seriously consider employing the dental surgeons in order to supplement the MBBS and nurses who are already being employed for carrying out the pre-screening test,” the bench added.
The bench further directed the state to consider providing accommodation for contractual employees working at Sushila Tiwari Hospital within or near the campus so as to prevent the spread of virus amongst their family members.
“In accordance with ICMR notification on April 22nd, the government shall establish nodal officer who will act as a bridge between the people and the hospitals and to resolve the problem of the people in getting admitted in health care centers/hospitals. For this purpose, sufficient numbers of helpline should be established at the district level. Helpline number should be publicized by each District Magistrate through electronic and print media,” the bench directed.
The bench also directed the District Magistrates to ensure that the complaints of black marketing of medicines/ essential commodities is immediately inquired into and if the black marketing of medicines /essential commodities is discovered, the DMs are required to take strict actions against such marketeers in accordance with law. The DMs are also directed to inquire into the over-charging ambulances carrying the dead bodies, and if such over-charging is discovered, immediate actions should be taken against the owner of those ambulances in accordance with the laws.
The bench, further directed the hospitals to strictly follow the SOPs for disposing off dead bodies and the same is followed by the hospital staff and family members of the deceased.
Taking cognizance from several media report stating large number of queues outside the crematory, the court directed the state to increase the number of cremation grounds by declaring certain areas as temporary cremation grounds and further to ensure that sufficient amount of wood is available to each of cremation grounds.
The court also directed the state to look into the issue of registration for vaccination especially for those who are 18 years and above, according to the government of vaccination would commence on May 1st for the set age group, since the people are required to register for vaccination and since there is an issue in connectivity, the government should find an alternative method for such registrations with alongside health authority.
The bench at last after the request made by the Secretary allowed him to submit a report on or before May 7 with regards to the implementation of the direction issued by the court (as mentioned above).