The Karnataka High Court on April 27 took serious note of the crisis surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic management in the state with regards to the unavailability of adequate hospital beds, ventilators, oxygen and medicines especially in Bengaluru. A bench of Chief Justice AS Oka and Justice Arvind Kumar rapped the state and the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) and also asked the Union government to take steps to ensure supply of 802 metric tonnes of oxygen.
“Going by facts on record we find that situation is fairly alarming,” the bench led by CJ Oka observed. The HC was hearing a batch of petitions relating to the distress faced by residents on the eve of the lockdown including matters of food security. The bench led by CJ Oka observed that these matters have direct correlation with right to life under Article 21 of the Constitution.
The hearing took place hours before the state goes into a two-week lockdown starting April 27 night in a bid to contain the raging second wave of COVID-19. There is a crisis of ventilators, beds and a shortage of oxygen as seen in the national capital Delhi and other parts of the country. The case will be heard again on April 29.
Here are the five thing the HC observed:
1. There was only a marginal increase in the availability of beds in the city, such an increase may not be able to cope up with rising cases in Bengaluru. “At 11.15 am today only 74 HDU beds, 20 ICU and 14 ICU ventilators are available in the city. This is an alarming situation,” the HC observed. State government will have to place on record availability of beds in the state and in those districts where there are more than 5,000 COVID-19 cases as of today.
2. Standing counsel for the Union government will have to immediately take instruction from the commanding officer about making available beds in hospitals of Armed Forces in the city for the benefit of citizens. The counsel for the Union government will report to court whether any beds in hospitals of Armed Forces can be made available to citizens on the next date of hearing.
3. 1471 metric tonnes of oxygen will be needed per day. The Union government has to make allocation and if that is not made as on April 30, going by the projected figures, there will be a shortfall of more than 600 metric tonne in the state. “We emphasize that the central government will have to take immediate steps to supply 802 MT of oxygen per day as assured in a letter dated April 24,” the HC said.
4. Both the state government and BBMP have failed to comply with the April 22 order to ensure that data of availability of antiviral drug Remdesivir shall be published on public domain. “From tomorrow lockdown will start in state, so if relatives are told to get Remdesivir it will be difficult for them to get it. This is an area, where the state should step in immediately,” the HC observed.
5. Other than beds and oxygen, the HC asked the state government to ensure there is food security and look at aspects of vaccination too.