The Karnataka High Court has directed the state government to submit before it the quantity of oxygen required between May 17 to May 24. The court has also sought district-wise data on buffer stock of oxygen as was directed by the apex court.
This direction was issued after the bench of Chief Justice Abhay Oka and Justice Aravind Kumar were informed that the Centre had allocated 1,015 MT to the state but the supplies were about 850-950 MT in the past few days. The state government had requested 1,396 MT oxygen from the Centre based on the projection that Covid cases might reach up to 6 lakhs.
“Still the supply of oxygen does not meet the requirements of the state. The figures of May 17 and May 18 indicate that the state government has not procured the entire quota allotted. Though the order of the Supreme Court dated April 30 directs creating buffer stock in each district, still there is no compliance of the same,” the order states, as reported by LiveLaw.
The court had directed the Centre to increase allocation to 1,200MT on an ad hoc basis until the Centre deliberated upon its decision. When the Centre approached the Supreme Court against this, order, the court refused to intervene deeming it to be a judicious order.
The bench has also sought from the government steps taken to procure vaccine doses for providing second dose to the people. “We direct state ad central government to place on record material to show what steps are being taken to ensure that no beneficiary who has completed six weeks after taking the first dose of Covaxin is denied the second dose. Necessary material shall be placed on record by next Tuesday,” the order states.
The court was informed that as of May 18, more than 4.5 lakh persons who have taken first dose of Covaxin have completed 4 weeks and about 97,000 doses are available with the state. While the central government has stated that around 1.6 lakh doses will eb allocated to the state in the second fortnight of May, it has asked the state to procure 2.4 lakh doses via direct procurement.
Thus, the court sought to know what measures has the state government taking to procure these doses. The court pointed out that by the end of May an additional 4.5 lakh persons will have completed 4 weeks after first dose and thus there is serious issue of shortage of Covaxin as well.
Further, about 58 lakh persons will require second dose of Covishield in the near future, and the state had a stock of only 7.1 lakh doses. The court said that people should be made aware of availability of vaccine and no false hopes must be given.
The court also pointed to new guidelines issued in terms of time period between two doses of Covishield are to be followed in letter and spirit.
When a counsel raised the query on whether private hospitals can be restrained from giving out first doses when so many second doses were ending to be administered, the court responded, “When there is an acute shortage of second dose, the state government will have to come out with an appropriate policy which will be rational and fair. The response of the state on policy and question of issuing direction to private agencies, should be filed on next Tuesday.” The state has taken a stand, that except for frontline and health workers no one will get first dose, in the light of shortage of vaccines.
“Unless the state government generates precise data of requirement of second dose on everyday basis it may not be possible to effectively administer the second dose to all those who have taken the first dose. State government will have to respond on this on the next date,” the court added. This observation was made since the guidelines now states that those who got infected by Covid after taking their first dose should defer their second dose by 3 months, thus it is necessary to keep track of such data to ensure compliance of the guidelines.
(To be updated with order)
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