Shimla: Himachal High Court on Friday directed the state government to increase the number of ventilators and beds in the Covid Hospitals, Covid Health Centres within the state.

The Court taking cognizance in a matter related to spurt in Covid in Himachal also directed to increase the distribution of Oximeters to the Covid patients, who require the same.

A Division Bench comprising the Chief Justice L Narayana Swamy and Justice Anoop Chitkara passed these orders on a petition taken up suo moto by the Court as Public Interest Litigation on a media report.

The Court in its earlier order had issued notice to the state government and had directed to make submissions with regard to the steps taken in this regard.

In compliance to aforesaid orders, the Advocate General submitted that proper treatment is being given to the Covid patients across the State and patients are not facing any hardship.

He submitted the District wise/hospital wise vacancy position of beds in different Covid Hospitals/Medical Colleges in the state, in a tabulated form and stated that total vacant beds for Covid patients in Dedicated Covid Care Centres in Districts Bilaspur, Chamba, Hamirpur, Kangra, Kinnaur, Kullu, Lahaul and Spiti, Mandi, Shimla, Sirmour, Solan and Una are 2401 and total isolation beds (including ICU beds) in Dedicated Covid Care Centres in the state of Himachal Pradesh are 2583.

The Amicus Curiae stated that providing adequate medical services to the people is the constitutional obligation of the state.

It was stated that short-term economic gains cannot be allowed to endanger long-term public health and welfare and suggested to regulate entry of tourists and outsiders into the state.

The state government was suggested to increase testing and contact tracing, online training and protocols to help impart training to frontline workers, active, free and massive screening, encouraging e-commerce,  considering time-specific restrictions on economic activities,  encouraging e-learning but ensuring availability of adequate infrastructure, odd-even (valley-mountain side)scheme for shops in market places, economic incentives and assurances, such as soft loans to people dependent on tourism, cash transfers to daily wage earners,  increase in containment zones and supplement the PDS Scheme with community kitchen.

After going through the submissions filed by the state, the Court observed that sufficient ventilators are not provided in Dedicated Covid Hospitals in Himachal and they need to be increased as in district Bilaspur only 4 ventilators are provided and in district Sirmaur only one ventilator has been provided.

The Court also directed the state to look into the suggestions given by the Amicus Curiae to facilitate the people of entire State and to make submissions in this behalf on November 23, 2020.

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