Drastic surge in Covid-19 cases, Himachal Pradesh HC issues directions

The court took note of the grim situation in the state with no medical facilities and resources to combat the rising cases

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The Himachal Pradesh High Court has issued a set of directions to contain the spread of coronavirus, after noting that the state has witnessed a “drastic surge” in infections, with the highest fatality rate in the country.

Justices Tarlok Singh Chauhan and Justice Chander Bhusan Barowalia were dealing with a plea filed in connection with the lack of oxygen facilities and non-operational ventilators when it decided to expand the scope of it to the entire state regarding Covid management.

The Division Bench took note of the present situation in the state where infection cases have spread to not only urban but rural areas too. It observed that many deaths have been reported during the past few days from various parts of the state due to acute shortage of oxygen and medicines. There is also no system in place to comprehend how many normal beds, ICUs and ventilators are available in government and private hospitals.

RT-PCR test results are delayed and, in the meantime, if a patient dies, the body is handed over to the family members and cremation in such cases is not being conducted as per established Covid protocols.

Senior Advocate BN Mishra, for the petitioner, also submitted that only the rich and influential are being admitted to hospitals where there is availability of oxygen and some lifesaving drugs, while those belonging to the middle class, poor and below poverty line families are left without treatment.

He also told the court that the State Government is being discriminated against by the Central Government with regard to supply of drugs like Remdesivir, Favipiravir and Tocilizumab. Recently, only 3,000 vials have been allocated to the State Government, whereas, those states having lesser populations and far lesser Covid-19 cases have been supplied a far greater number of vials.


In light of these developments, the court has issued the following directions to the State:

1. Increase the number of authorized laboratories/clinics/hospitals which can carry on the testing for a larger percentage of population.

2. Increase the number of testing being done in the bigger towns of the State. The State Government should consider the use of other kits, besides the Rapid Antigen Kit, or the RT PCR tests, for increasing the tests being carried out on a daily basis.

3. In order to increase the testing facilities in the hill districts of the State, the State Government should consider sending ‘mobile vans’ which are fully equipped for carrying out the testing of Covid-19 virus.

4. The State should increase the number of dedicated Covid Hospitals. For, merely having few dedicated Covid hospitals, is too little to tackle the menace, especially when the pandemic is likely to spread and increase throughout the State in the coming months.

5. The State is directed to increase the number of beds available in the hospitals. It shall ensure that the majority of the beds are equipped with Oxygen tanks and sufficient numbers of beds are equipped with ventilators. If necessary, the number of ICUs in the hospitals should be increased.

6. The State Government is directed to ensure that the PPE kits and other protective gear, such as gloves, masks, and sanitizer are provided to all the medical staff, especially to the Doctors, Nurses, Ward boys to look after Covid patients.

7. The State Government is directed to publish the names and locations of the testing centres, and the names and locations of Hospitals/Dedicated COVID-19 Health Care Centres in the media bulletin on a daily basis. The media bulletin should clearly indicate the total number of beds available in each hospital/Dedicated COVID19 Health Care Centres, and the number of vacant beds available in each hospital. It should also indicate the class of the beds i.e. the number of beds attached with ventilators, number of beds attached with Oxygen cylinders and the number of beds without any Oxygen tank/ Cylinder.

The state has also been directed to furnish information about vacant beds for Covid patients, oxygen supply, a plan under the Disaster Management Act to tackle the Covid-19 cases, and steps taken to ensure the availability of essential drugs including Remdesivir, Favipiravir and Tocilizumab.

The order may be read here: 


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