‘Public Health More Important Than Counting Votes’: Madras High Court Suggests Lockdown On May 1 & 2

first_imgNews Updates’Public Health More Important Than Counting Votes’: Madras High Court Suggests Lockdown On May 1 & 2 Sparsh Upadhyay26 April 2021 9:35 AMShare This – xThe Madras High Court on Monday (April 26) heard the matter related to the state of preparedness in the wake of the pandemic in the State of Tamil Nadu and in the Union Territory of Puducherry and issued a slew of suggestions regarding COVID management in the state of Tamil Nadu & UT of Puducherry.The Bench of Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee and Justice Senthil Ramamoorthy stated that if only the authorities had made proper plans and taken measures during last one year, the present ‘tsunami of COVID19 infections could have been avoided. “You had all of last year to plan and take a decision. If it had been done, we would not be in this situation…. We were lulled into a false sense of security only to be hit by this tsunami of infection now”, Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee orally remarked. [COVID19] ‘We Were Lulled Into A False Sense Of Security To Be Hit By Tsunami Of Infections Now’: Madras High Court Submissions made by the State of Tamil Nadu At the outset, a serious apprehension was expressed on behalf of the State that in most cases, the panic created by the relatives of a person afflicted by the virus creates the problem. The State further argued that the patients were directly being brought into government hospitals or private nursing homes and beds are sought when, in several cases, the patient may not require admission at all. The other apprehension expressed was that the patients were scrambling to obtain the drug Remdesivir which was, admittedly, in short supply. It was submitted on behalf of the State that in most cases even admission may not be necessary and the State and the public interest would be better served if an element of discretion were exercised and the protocol that is being announced by the State, over and over again, followed. As to supplies of oxygen, drug Remdesivir and related drugs, ventilators, beds, doses of vaccine, the Court found that the status report filed by the State Government painted quite an acceptable picture. However, the State did accept before the Court that if the upward trend continued, in the sense that more people get infected today than yesterday and yesterday was more than the day before, further measures have to be adopted. Importantly¸ the State said that though there was adequate supply and storage of oxygen at the moment, the State was not inclined to have oxygen diverted to anywhere else since the daily use of oxygen has been on the rise and, in a worst-case scenario, all of the available oxygen in the State may be necessary. Here, it may be noted that during the course of earlier hearing, the Chief Justice Banerjee had asked the State Government, “If we have the capacity and the resources, then we should even help other states. are we doing that? if yes, give us the details.”#Oxygen availability: If we have the capacity and the resources, then we should even help other states. are we doing that? if yes, give us the details: CJ to AGAG says other states are being given assistance/help by the #TamilNadu Government. Agrees to give the details.— Live Law (@LiveLawIndia) April 22, 2021In this backdrop, the Court also noted that more oxygen and more ventilators would be necessary along with a greater supply of medicines to treat the symptoms in coming days when the COVID cases would rise. Further, underlining that Remdesivir was not meant for everyday use by every person, nor was it a cure for Covid-19, the State Government submitted that there was a sufficient supply of such drugs such as Tocilizumab 400mg and Enoxaparian 40mg (which are also used in the treatment of Covid-19). Further, on the suggestions of the Court, the State Government agreed to do the following: To widely publicize the do’s and don’ts and the other steps that may be taken or not taken. This will be done by issuing advertisements in the print and electronic media for dissemination of information to the public at large. Relevant information is already available, according to the State, on the State website, www.stopcorona.tn.gov.in and the Health Secretary promised that real-time information would be available, indicating the availability of beds in the locality and the like. Court’s observations The Madras High Court, in its order, observed that both Tamil Nadu and Puducherry needed to be particularly aware of the fact that counting of votes will be undertaken from the early hours of May 2, 2021, and the counting activities must be held in complete Covid protocol, without any compromise at all. “Public health, after all, is more important than counting votes. The process may be delayed or even deferred, but public health must not be compromised,” added the Court. Further, the Court also made the following observations: – Awareness was needed to be spread to encourage the rural community to be inoculated and disabuse persons of the reservations harbored in such regard.The prices of the drugs, the bed rates charged for admission into private hospitals and the prices of oxygen and vaccination should be monitored and controlled by the State Government.The State and the Union and their officers being activated for keeping a strict vigil against any black-marketing of any drug during this period.If necessary, the State may consider imposing a lockdown on May 1, which was traditionally a holiday, and again on May 2, which is a Sunday, and only allow movement of vehicles needed for the purpose of counting and related purposes, apart from emergency vehicles.Continued vigil must be maintained and the matter dealt with sternly with appropriate personnel being empowered to take on-the-spot decisions which are critical. COVID management in Puducherry The Court perused the report filed by the UT of Puducherry administration indicating adequate steps which have been taken almost on similar lines as in Tamil Nadu, but on a reduced scale. The Court asked both the State and the Union Territory to take measures to indicate basic norms not exceeding eight or ten bullet points and circulated the same over the electronic media or published by the print media seeking to guide citizens, instead of citizens panicking and rushing to hospitals. Lastly, the Court also remarked, “It would also do well for the State and the Union Territory to completely eschew the VIP-culture and ensure that facilities are available to citizens without consideration of status or the like of the patient or her relatives.” The matter will next appear on April 29, 2021, if not necessary to be taken up earlier on any urgent basis. In related news, earlier in the day, while considering another case, the bench had pulled up the Election Commission of India for allowing election rallies during the COVID pandemic. A visibly upset Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee told the Election Commission’s counsel “Your institution is singularly responsible for the second wave of COVID-19”. The Chief Justice went to the extent of orally saying “Your officers should be booked on murder charges probably”. Click Here To Download OrderRead OrderTagsMadras High Court Public Health #Election Commission of India COVID Management Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee Justice Senthil Ramamoorthy Tamil Nadu Elections Remdesivir Oxygen Shortage Covid protocol COVID19 Second Wave Next Storylast_img

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