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A sorry state of affairs, says HC on patients who died as hospitals denied admission

Terming as ‘a sorry state of affairs’ the deaths of two COVID-19 patients after the failure to get admission in hospitals, including government hospitals in the city as reported in the media, the High Court of Karnataka on Tuesday asked the State government to look into the issue and hold necessary inquiry.

Also, the HC asked the government whether any centralised mechanism existed to notify the public in advance about the availability of beds for treating COVID-19 patients, and to avail the bed in a particular hospital soon after testing positive for COVID-19 to ensure that the patients get immediate medical care.

A special Division Bench comprising Chief Justice Abhay Shreeniwas Oka and Justice Aravind Kumar issued the directions while hearing through video conferencing a PIL petition initiated suo motu by the court based on separate letters written to the Chief Justice by the Advocates Association, Bengalur, and Anu Chengappa, a city-based advocates, and two other petitions filed by Geetha Misra and the Bharath Punaruthana Trust.

The Bench also asked the government to provide details of total beds available in public and private hospitals, particularly in the jurisdiction of Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike, and the number of ICUs with or without ventilators available for COVID-19 treatment.

Referring to claims made on non-availibility of ambulances in one of the PIL, the Bench asked whether the facility of ambulance is extended to COVID-19 patients and in what manner people can avail ambulance service as regular ambulances cannot be used for transporting COVID-19 patients.

The Bench directed the government to provide details of facilities, like the number of doctors, nurses and other para medical staff, food and medicines available at COVID-19 facilities and the hospitals.

As one of petitions referred to the instance of dumping of dead bodies of COVID-19 victims in Ballari district recently, the Bench asked the government whether any protocol or Standard Operating Procedure existed for decent burial/cremation of dead bodies of COVID-19 persons; and whether scientific opinion was available to show that if a person, who touches the dead body of a COVID-19 person, has a chance of contracting the disease.

The government has also been directed to inform whether any embargo has been imposed on rates for treating COVID-19 at private hospitals.

Hearing has been adjourned till July 9.

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