The Supreme Court on Thursday said that the system of oxygen allocation across the country based on the number of beds and ICU usage needs to be completely revamped. The court said that the Centre must also take into account evolving needs such as home quarantine and ambulance usage while allocating oxygen to states.
Notably, the shortage of medical oxygen has been reported from across the country, with queues outside hospitals getting longer as lakhs of fresh COVID cases continue to pour in daily. The shortage of oxygen has resulted in hundreds of deaths, while black marketing of oxygen cylinders is in full swing.
The division bench of Justice DY Chandrachud and Justice MR Shah said, “When you prepared the formula, not everyone wanted to go into an ICU. Many required oxygen at home. The Centre’s formula does not take into account transportation, ambulance and COVID-care facilities.”
Taking into consideration the logistics that follow the allocation and the modality for distribution to hospitals, the court said, “We need to do look at the issue pan-India…an oxygen audit is necessary. What is the accountability once stocks are released?”
Preparation for the third wave
The apex court also wanted to know the preparations of the Union government for the third wave of the pandemic. The bench asked, “When the third wave comes, how will you deal with it? What is the plan? Suppose containers not available, what can be done?”
Replying to the query, the counsel for the Union government said that the apex court can guide it.
With India accounting for almost half of the COVID-19 cases reported across the world last week, Dr K Vijay Raghavan, the government’s top scientific adviser on Wednesday warned that the third wave of COVID-19 is inevitable.
Dr K Vijay Raghavan at a government briefing said, “Phase 3 (third wave) is inevitable, given the high levels at which this virus is circulating. But it is not clear at what time scale this Phase 3 will occur.”
Meanwhile, the World Health Organisation (WHO) in its weekly epidemiological report said that India accounted for 46 per cent of global cases and 25 per cent of global deaths reported in the past week.
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