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HC asks Gujarat govt to provide district-wise information on RT-PCR testing

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The Gujarat High Court on Tuesday directed the state government to provide district-wise information on RT-PCR testing for COVID-19, the demand for the test, and the capacity erected by the authorities.

The query came during the hearing of a public interest litigation initiated by the high court owing to the grim situation prevalent in the state amid the pandemic as queues outside hospitals and crematoriums are getting longer.

The state government represented by government pleader Manisha Luvkumar at the very beginning of the hearing admitted that the situation in Gujarat is grim, but efforts are being made to mitigate the crisis at all levels.

The division bench of Chief Justice Vikram Nath and Justice Bhargav Karia also sought information about the modalities developed by the state government for attending critical patients who require 108 ambulance services. The court pointed out that the government cannot provide an ambulance based on first-come, first-serve. It said that more serious patients will have to be attended to first.

The court also questioned the government why patients who come to a designated COVID hospital on a private vehicle rather than a 108 ambulance are not being entertained.

What the Gujarat govt said

As far as the testing is concerned, the government said that it has PCR testing facilities across all districts and more such facilities are being added to strengthen the fight against COVID-19. It said that 98 labs in the state carry out RT-PCR tests and 22 universities that have RT-PCR testing machines are also being utilised for carrying out more tests and reduce the time lag.

The government said it is purchasing 40 RT-PCR machines out of which nine will be made available in seven days and 16 will be made available in 14 days. It also added that nearly 70,000 RT-PCR tests are being carried out in Gujrat daily.

Also Read: RT-PCR tests cost Rs 700 in Gujarat, Rs 350 in Rajasthan: Amit Chavda

As far as injections are concerned, the government said that efforts are being made to get more Remdesivir injections.

On the issue of bed occupancy, the government said that 79,944 beds are available for COVID-19 patients in the state and 55,783 beds are occupied. The submission led to a query by the high court on why patients are finding it difficult to get a bed in the state, the government pleader said that several patients have preferences and the categories of beds could be the reason behind denials by hospitals.

On the issue of imposing lockdown, the government said that it is trying to balance between saving lives and livelihoods.  The government also submitted that the 900-bed COVID facility at GMDC ground will be ready by April 25.

Arguments of GHCAA

Senior advocate Percy Kavina, who represented the Gujarat High Court Advocates’ Association (GHCAA), said there are serious contestations to the claims made by the Gujarat government. He said that the government is not factoring in the requirement of oxygen by patients availing home care.

Kavina also said that there are several complaints of hospitals overcharging patients for COVID treatment. He also said that unofficially, there is a new protocol for hospitals whereby they have been asked to provide Remdesivir injection to only ICU patients. The senior advocate said that Remdesivir is administered to people to ensure that their condition does not deteriorate and they have to be admitted to ICU.

Next hearing

The government has been asked to satisfy the queries of the court as well as provide an updated status of the measures undertaken to combat the pandemic. The next hearing of the case has been scheduled on April 27.

 

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