The country is facing a hike in COVID-19 cases at an alarming rate, crippling our healthcare system.
On Friday, the Supreme Court criticised the governments of Delhi, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Gujarat & West Bengal for mishandling the crisis and issued them to take "immediate remedial action."
A bench of Justices Ashok Bhusan, S K Kaul, and M R Shah expressed their concerns regarding the "grim situation" in the states and even described the national capital in a "deplorable & pathetic" condition.
The bench headed by Justice Ashok Bhusan commented that:
Covid-19 patients are treated worse than animals. In one case, a dead body was found in garbage.
The bench further issued notices to the Centre and the State governments while directing the chief secretaries. They have been asked to:
Immediately take appropriate notice of the status of patients' management in the Government hospital in their respective States and take remedial action.
The states have to submit a status report so that appropriate actions can be taken by the court. This matter will be heard again on June 17.
At the same time, the court issued notice to LNJP hospital which is the largest hospital run by the Delhi government, and also one of the COVID treatment facilities in the national capital.
The SC is also gravely concerned about the reduced testing for COVID-19. The court noted that the patients are struggling to get themselves admitted while a large number of beds in government hospitals remain vacant.
According to Delhi government app, the court stated that:
On 27th May, the number of samples tested is 6,018, on 9th June (it) is 4,670, (and) on 11th June, the total testing in Delhi is reported as 5,077. Non-testing of the patients is not a solution to the problem, rather increase in the testing facility is the duty of the State.
The order also shared that:
Patients are in the wards and the dead bodies are also in the same wards. Dead bodies are seen also in the lobby and waiting area. The patients were not supplied with any oxygen support or any other support, no saline drips were shown with the beds and there was no one to attend the patients. Patients are crying and there is no one to attend them.
Requesting a "steep increase" in testing, the court further added:
The State is not only duty-bound to increase the number of beds but also to provide appropriate infrastructure and staff. It cannot abdicate its responsibility of ensuring that all hospitals including Government hospitals take care of the Covid-19 patients. The duty of the State of NCT Delhi does not end in informing the people that it has arranged 5,814 beds in Government hospitals and 9,535 beds including private hospitals. The State and its officers are also duty-bound to ensure that patients are taken care, attended, provided all medical facility, the hospitals have necessary infrastructure and staff.
The court has suggested the states to “consider simplifying the procedure so that more and more tests be held to benefit the patients”.
If proper steps are not taken now, the states will find themselves in dire conditions which will only aggravate the pandemic.