The state government drew flak from a Telangana High Court bench comprising Chief Justice Hima Kohli and Justice B Vijaysen Reddy on several issues relating to COVID-19 management.

A birds eye view of the Telangana High Court
Coronavirus Court Monday, May 17, 2021 - 17:55

A Telangana High Court bench comprising Chief Justice Hima Kohli and Justice B Vijaysen Reddy on Monday pulled up the state government for failing to submit several details to the court, despite being directed to do so in the previous hearing.

Low testing

The HC bench slammed the government for low testing in the state. Chief Justice Hima Kohli noted that in the previous hearing the state was asked to carry out around 1 lakh tests per day, but in reality the testing had reduced to around 50,000 tests per day.

The Chief Justice observed that the constant insistence of the court to enhance the number of tests, particularly RT-PCR test, has fallen on deaf ears.

The bench also noted that despite asking for a break-up of RT-PCR tests and Rapid Antigen Tests, the same was not submitted by the state. Other details such as number of tests, positivity rate, deaths, etc were mentioned in the affidavit filed. The bench observed that on May 1, around 76,000 samples were tested and by May 14, the same had dwindled to around 50,000.

The bench directed the state to provide the break-up of the tests in affidavits that are filed by the state government. It also observed that only in 13 of the total 33 districts were more than 20,000 tests being conducted.

Home isolation kits

The bench enquired whether steroids were being distributed in the free home isolation kits being provided by the state government. When no confirmation was received regarding the same, the Chief Justice asked the state not to supply steroids in the kits keeping in view the rising number of mucormycosis or black fungus cases in the state. Recent studies have shown that misuse of steroids is a major cause behind mucormycosis.

Database of available hospital beds

The HC bench observed that the government’s hospital beds database is not reflecting the reality on the ground. A media report which stated that around 390 hospitals in the database aren’t even treating COVID-19 cases was brought to the bench’s notice. The court observed that this accounted for around 3,000 beds. Raising concerns about the same, the bench directed the state to exclude these hospitals from the database.

“The state has to ensure that the website is factually correct and only available hospital beds are put up on the official website of the health dept and this should be in sync with reality,” the bench said.

Capping of COVID-19 treatment rates

The court observed that in June 2020, a GO was released capping the rates of certain COVID-19 treatments in the state. The court noted that those directions were ‘outdated’ and new orders need to be released.

“In the second wave of the pandemic, the medical requirements have drastically changed. Doesn’t make sense to exclude PPE kits from the ceiling off of prices. CT scans and several critical blood tests necessary for COVID-19 treatment need to be capped. The state government is directed to examine the above aspects with all seriousness and then issue a GO in this regard,” stated the Chief Justice.

Grievance redressal number

It was brought to the notice of the bench that a task force consisting of IAS officers was constituted along with a grievance redressal number last year during the first wave. Noting that both are presently non-functional, the court directed the state to reconstitute the expert committee as well as the grievance redressal number. The same also has to be publicised by the government.

Children orphaned during pandemic

It was brought to the notice of the court that several children have been orphaned after the deaths of their parents due to COVID-19. Observing that there is a risk of illegal adoptions and child trafficking, the court noted that the matter needed to be addressed on priority.

The bench directed the Department of Women Development and Child Welfare to submit an affidavit regarding its strategy to deal with the same.

COVID-19 cases after election duty

The court took cognisance of the fact that around 500 teachers deputed to election duty tested positive for coronavirus and some of them had also lost their lives. The bench directed the state to take all necessary steps to provide treatment and benefits to all those who were posted on election duty, including teachers and police personnel. The court also directed that all these people be considered COVID-19 warriors and the same benefits be extended to them.

The matter was posted to June 1 and the Chief Justice also asked the state’s advocate general to come prepared with all the details, as directed by the court, and also asked him to “get his house in order” by the next hearing.

The matter was posted to June 1 and the Chief Justice also asked the state’s advocate general to come prepared with all the details, as directed by the court, and also asked him to “get his house in order” by the next hearing.

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