Test frontline workers of Bengaluru civic body for COVID-19, Karnataka HC tells state

The High Court was hearing a petition which stated that the BBMP had failed to provide medical aid to COVID-19 patients.
Test frontline workers of Bengaluru civic body for COVID-19, Karnataka HC tells state
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The Karnataka High Court on Thursday began hearing a case filed by multiple parties which stated that the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) had failed to provide medical aid to COVID-19 patients. After hearing arguments, Chief Justice Abhay Shreeniwas Oka told the civic body to conduct randomised tests for frontline workers and also provide protection to them. 

The petition was initially filed by Maruthi H, a resident of Bengaluru, against the extension of work hours under the Factories Act in May this year. The extension of work hours was notified amid the lockdown due to COVID-19. The High Court then began accepting various applications related to COVID-19 under this writ petition and Thursday’s hearing was of one such application. 

The Chief Justice, who was hearing the petition, said that the lack of adequate information had led to a chaotic situation in Bengaluru. The advocate representing the petitioners, GR Mohan, submitted that four BBMP officials had died while trying to find beds in various hospitals. 

Two assistant revenue officers of the BBMP, Nataraj (55) from Yelahanka and Thimmaiah (54) from Chamarajpet died due to COVID-19 on Tuesday. Mahalakshmipuram Executive Engineer R Vishwanath and the Assistant Revenue Officer of Chamarajpet, Shailesh, died on Wednesday. 

GR Mohan submitted that these officials were not able to get beds. The counsel representing the BBMP, Dhyan Chinnappa, said that the state government had issued a direction to private hospitals to consider sufficient proof that a patient has COVID-19 before admitting them. An SMS sent by the lab to a person is sufficient, he said.

This, however, is contrary to the BBMP’s warning issued to private hospitals to only accept patients directed by the government. Earlier this week, outpatient departments of Vikram Hospital and Sagar Apollo were shut down for 48 hours by the Karnataka Health Department with the Commissioner of the Health Department stating that the hospitals were accepting COVID-19 patients on their own, when they were only allowed to accept patients directed to them by the government. 

“The ground situation is different, be it for common man or anyone; unless strings are pulled you cannot get a bed in a hospital,” advocate Venkatesh Dalwai, representing the petitioner said.

“Some person of any rank should be appointed and stationed at hospitals so that no patient is turned away,” the court observed.

Advocate Clifton Rosario, representing the petitioner, submitted that 23 pourakarmikas had tested positive for the coronavirus so far and that Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) kits were not given to these civic workers in containment zones. 

The High Court directed the BBMP to take immediate action to assist pourakarmikas. The BBMP requested 24 hours time to respond to the allegations regarding pourakarmikas. 

In addition to this, the petitioner’s counsel stated that around 1,000 police personnel have tested positive in Bengaluru and four police personnel, who were patrolling the streets in containment zones, died due to COVID-19. 

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