The Gujarat High Court on Thursday pulled up the state government on various figures provided by it on the Covid situation, particularly in the second wave, which prompted the court to file a fresh suo moto PIL over the matter.
The division bench of Chief Justice Vikram Nath and Justice Bhargav D. Karia was unsatisfied with the government figures “which painted a rosy picture” and raised doubts about these as the “situation, in reality, was contrary”.
“We have a serious doubt on this figure of 53 per cent bed occupancy. Than what about so much noise on bed unavailability in hospitals. How come this figure does not appear to be correct?” it asked Advocate General Kamal Trivedi who submitted that figure of occupancy as on April 12.
The court was also not satisfied as far as the availability of remdesivir injections was concerned. “The figures declared by the state of Covid positive patients is not matching the actual number of cases, looking at the deficit of remdesivir injections,” CJ Vikram Nath said.
“Either the figures are not correct, or doctors are indiscriminately prescribing remdesivir for common cold and fever,” he added.
“Do you have an idea of what is the requirement of remdesivir?” the court asked Trivedi, who contended that they have sufficient stock for cases in which it is required.
“Say this on affidavit that there is enough stock for anyone who needs it on medical advice,” the court ordered.
To a query regarding testing, the Advocate General informed that RT-PCR testing facilities were adequately available in each of the 33 districts, but Justice Karia refused to buy it, saying it was not available in Anand district.
The claims were also disagreed to by advocate Amit Panchal, who told the court that six districts did not have RT-PCR testing facilities and people had to get themselves tested in neighbouring districts.
Advocate Anand Yagnik requested the court to have RT-PCR facilities in every district taluka. “11 district judges out of 33 have said that except in big cities of Gujarat, there is no RT-PCR. But the government is saying every district has it,” Yagnik said in his submission.
At this, the court stressed: “Testing is a very important aspect. The government can tie up with small labs in these small towns and aid them to set up testing facilities.”
The HC was also not satisfied with the government’s online portal, which showed the status of Covid patients in various hospitals and the bed availability.
As the Advocate General that the portal was being maintained by association of hospitals in Ahmedabad, Chief Justice Vikram Nath said: “You must take the data under your control and provide accurate information. You cannot leave it to the association.
“The portal of the state does not provide real-time figures. It may show there is availability, but when you go to a hospital you will find otherwise.”
The Gujarat HC also gave a bit of advice to the government on looking at the near future, where the need for CT scan would be higher. “CT scan lines are getting longer. Start thinking on those lines, nobody knows how long this Covid will go on. Get CT Scan facilities in hospitals,” it suggested.
The court observed that the hospitals were exploiting the situation even in these desperate times. “Hospitals are not admitting patients who need oxygen… I fail to understand why people even at this time are looking to make a fast buck. Even oxygen is being black-marketed,” the Chief Justice said.
The court said that an order would be passed. “We will pass an order and grant you further time to file status report on remdesivir, testing, hospital beds etc,” it told the government.
The court did not announce the schedule for the next hearing. However, Yagnik requested the court to keep it on Saturday.