HC directs Himachal govt to increase ventilators, beds in Covid hospitals

The high court passed these directions on a petition taken up suo motu as a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) following a news article published a few days ago which said that the Covid ward of IGMC Hospital in Shimla is packed to capacity.

AMID A spurt in Covid cases in the state, the Himachal Pradesh High Court on Friday directed the state government to increase the number of ventilators and beds in all Covid hospitals and centres. It also asked the government to increase distribution of oximeters to needy patients.

The high court passed these directions on a petition taken up suo motu as a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) following a news article published a few days ago which said that the Covid ward of IGMC Hospital in Shimla is packed to capacity.

During the hearing on Friday, the advocate general told the court that there are currently around 2,400 vacant beds for Covid patients in dedicated Covid care centres in the state. There are nearly 2,600 isolation beds, including ICU beds, in these centres, the AG said.

After going through submissions filed by the state, the court observed that sufficient ventilators are not available in Covid hospitals. Sirmaur and Bilaspur districts have only one and four ventilators respectively, the court said. The court asked the state to consider the suggestions made by the amicus curiae.

The amicus curiae in the case said that short-term economic gains cannot be allowed to endanger long-term public health and welfare, and suggested regulating the entry of tourists and outsiders into the state. He also suggested encouraging e-commerce, imposing time-specific restrictions on economic activities, reintroducing the odd-even (valley-mountain side) scheme for opening of shops in market places, giving cash transfers to daily-wage earners and providing incentives such as soft loans to people dependent on tourism.

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