The High Court expressed displeasure over the steps taken by the state government in handling the second wave of COVID-19 in Telangana.

A street in Chennai being disinfected as a man wearing mask walks by. Representative image/PTI
Coronavirus COVID-19 Monday, April 19, 2021 - 20:53

The Telangana High Court has given the state government 48 hours to decide on the concrete steps it plans to take, in order to intensify the restrictions in the state. “The state government must decide if it plans to impose a lockdown or night curfew, within the next 48 hours,” said a two-judge panel, comprising Chief Justice Hima Kohli and Justice B Vijaysen Reddy. The bench opined that the state has to consider intensifying the restrictions and should consider imposing a night curfew.

The Bench expressed its displeasure over the government’s handling of the COVID-19 spread in the state. A total of 4,009 people tested positive for coronavirus on Monday, while 14 patients died due to the illness. The Chief Justice said that if the state government did not take any concrete steps within the next two days, the court would be forced to step in and play the role of an executive.

In its previous hearing, the Telangana HC had directed the state government to form an advisory committee under the Disaster Management Act, 2005. The court advised experts in the field of disaster management and with practical experience be made a part of the committee. The court observed that no steps have been taken by the state government to form such a committee.

The court also questioned the functional status of the 14 RT-PCR labs that were to be set up by the state government. In response, the Health Secretary requested four weeks’ time to set up the same. The panel has also directed the state government to make public the information on micro-containment zones, which are to be declared in the media bulletins.

The Telangana government has informed the court that the state is following the Union government’s advisory to hasten the vaccination drives in the state. However, it also informed the court that the vaccination efforts in workplaces are yet to be implemented.

Interestingly, at the court, the Health Secretary had claimed that there was no shortage of oxygen cylinders in government hospitals. But the court sought further clarification upon a submission made by senior counsel L Ravichander, who quoted the Health Minister of the state requesting the Union government for oxygen cylinders due to a shortage.

The court has also asked the state to control the footfall in public places. The Bench also asked the state government to curtail the number of people in public gatherings like marriages and funerals. The next hearing has been posted on April 23, Friday, and the state government has been asked to file a status report prior to the hearing.

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