The Karnataka High Court on April 29 directed the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) to take over 300 oxygen beds run by the South Western Railways in Bengaluru in the wake of the massive surge in COVID-19 cases. The state government was asked to take over similar railway facilities in Mysuru and Hubballi.
On the same day, the HC yet again asked the Union government to address the oxygen and Remdesivir shortage in the state. More than 1,400 COVID-19 deaths have been recorded in Bengaluru alone for the month of April while more than 90,000 tested positive in the city. Compared to this, only 147 deaths were recorded in March with 14,042 people testing positive. This huge caseload has led to people struggling to get oxygen, ICU and ventilator beds.
“We direct the central government to consider the request of the state govt to increase oxygen allocation. We direct the Centre to take immediate decision on the same. We direct the state to submit a representation to the concerned authority of the Centre setting out the projected requirement of oxygen for seven days from tomorrow,” the bench led by Chief Justice AS Oka said as it continued to hear COVID-19 management related matters.
On April 27, the HC had asked the Union government to ensure supply of 802 metric tonnes of oxygen per day for the state.
The HC also asked the Union government to increase the cap on supply of Remdesivir. In this regard, the BBMP was asked to display the contact number of the Deputy Drug Controller at all helpdesks outside COVID-19 hospitals, so that relatives can easily contact the authority.
Further the HC said, “We direct the state to place on record criteria laid down to restrict supply of Remdesivir to private hospitals. We direct the state government to estimate the number of Remdesivir vials required in private hospitals as well 50% reserved beds and submit it to the central government accordingly.”
With regards to increasing hospital beds using armed forces facilities, the court was again told that there are no extra beds in hospitals run by the armed forces.
Observing that the armed forces have always helped the civic administration in disaster situations, the bench directed state and BBMP officials to hold meetings with officers of armed forces.
“We hope and trust that they will go out of the way by creating a large number of beds with oxygen,” the HC said.
The HC also asked the state and BBMP to place on record the steps taken to estimate beds for the near future and increase capacity of all hospitals.