The Madras High Court is hearing a suo motu case concerning the management of the COVID-19 situation in Tamil Nadu. The Court had proposed to take up issues of the distribution and supply of Remdesivir, oxygen, ventilators and COVID-19 vaccinations on the last hearing..Live updates from the hearing today feature here. .AG: Yesterday it was around 15,000, today it was 14,000. Hovering between 15-14,000... It is not increasing like it is increasing in other States. 1.2 lakh cases in UP, 80k per day in Maharashtra.Court: Whether the rate is rising or falling?.AG says about 7-8k people are being discharged per day. About 1 lakh, 10k active COVID cases as on today..Court: Bombay has plateaued, Bangalore, it is growing exponentially.AG: With the number of cases rising, we need to have reserve back up of Oxygen, that is the reason.Court: Last hearing you gave us a rosy picture of oxygen, today we see that Chief Minister has protested supply to AP and Telangana.AG: Another reason, the number of active cases there is less, but allotment is more. We have highlighted that also to Hon'ble Prime Minister.AG, however, adds that the picture projected by Vedanta is different from what the State came to find as regards the claim that it has 1050 MT manufacturing capacity. AG makes submissions on there being liquid and gaseous oxygen says gaseous cannot be used as of this moment.As far as Sterlite issue is concerned, State has taken a practical decision today morning (unclear) - an all-party meeting of 8 political parties was convened, they have endorsed the decision, AG says.Court: We must be absolutely sure that counting day is not another surge day. We have said that every measure should be taken but Election Commission was singularly lacking in controlling political parties in breaching covid protocol. It has abdicated its responsibility in that regard....Madras High Court says it won't delve too deep into the Sterlite-oxygen production aspect. Next concern is regarding the maintenance of COVID protocol on vote counting day (May 2).Court: With whatever time is left, every measure should be taken...let people survive first, then their democratic rights can come ... we hope we made it clear to Election Commission, we are making it clear to State..Court: If we find that even at the start of counting that there is something we do not like... we may stop the counting process then and there. It can happen in July or August or even in December. Public health is of paramount importance..Court: Yesterday, the Madurai bench also received requests regarding the availability of the drug. But present research says efficacy is not much, but that drug stops virus from spreading further....On Remdesivir, Court notes reports that there is paucity of the drug in TN.Court: We want to know what kind of reserves the state has and do you have adequate medicines to deal with it..Court also urges the State to start media campaigning to spread awareness among the public on these aspects..On ventilators, AG submits that people are still learning about COVID management, that not everybody needs a ventilator to survive. CJ refers to a program that suggested that people not immediately opt to go to a hospital if symptoms don't require it..Court notes that Remdesivir is not a magic drug, that only a limited number of people require it, for others it may be counterproductive or of no use. People should be made aware, Court opines..AG reads from affidavit on doubling the number of human resources - doctors and nurses..AG: There is a website where there is real-time info on the number of beds available for each hospital..Court: How does a patient know where to go?.AG adds: As far as about 1,500 nurses, High Court has granted a stay as a result of which we have not been able to appoint them Court: In the next five days, it cannot be resolved AG: It is only a question of vacating an interim order. HC says it will take up the appeal and see.AG, responding to Justice Senthilkumar Ramamoorthy's query as re how a COVID patient knows where to go, says the website to visit is http://stopcorona.tn.gov.in which gives real-time info and is updated on daily basis..AG: Yes, and we are procuring on a regular basis. But for some reason, there is a great reluctance.. especially for certain classes... they just don't want to take the vaccine.Court: Vacccination is very poor, only 52 lakh? You have enough supplies?.AG: There are also emergency contact numbers, you can call in each district..AG also adds that there is a 24-hour control room, which is available on the website, where any person can call and get information..Court again notes that Remdesivir is not a magic drug. Also notes that black marketing is on the rise because people hold misconceptions and are panicking..A lawyer cites from personal experience of persons he knows the difficulties in procuring Remdesivir. Says it is a harrowing experience for the middle and lower-middle class..AG: The CM has been saying please vaccinate... but for some reason, there is some reluctance..Senior Advocate P Wilson makes submissions, cites concern over the overpricing for filling up of oxygen cylinders, it needs monitoring, he submits..Wilson argues that an artificial demand is being made, among other concerns. Court: We will not allow this to be a political forum. No, Mr Wilson Wilson: It is not political milord Court: What is "They" Wilson: "They" is referring to private persons..Senior Advocate PS Raman makes submissions touching upon testing of persons moving across State borders. Raman: Apparently, it is asymptomatic for people who are vaccinated, but they are big carriers..Since May 2 is a Sunday, and since it is counting day, restricted movement can be announced. Whatever chances of surge can also go down. It is up to the State, Madras High Court suggests.Raman also cites what he heard from a friend: On a flight, he came in from Calcutta, nobody got tested. One of them apparently had COVID and now 3-4 people have got COVID. Raman: Some testing protocol should be put in all points of entry..Court: Yesterday, there was a whole lot of public enthusiasm participating in the lockdown.. people are following it voluntarily..There is a severe shortage beds in the general govt hospital, toilets are not clean, not complaining but govt has to do something, Adv Prasad says.In response to some concerns, AG says that in a day or 2, retail outlet may be created for all patients for RT PCR test and CT scan.Advocate Prasad makes submissions next..Adv Prasad says there is also the issue of a vaccine shortage. AG submits that a fresh procurement was made day before.P Wilson makes submissions, says he is not blaming anyone, but raising important aspects that should be monitored..Referring to advice not to "rush to hospital", Adv Prasad says: These things cannot be predicted. It is because of the late entry, oxygen levels go down. Many doctors are saying go home because of the shortage of beds, ventilators. So not an answer to say that dont go to the hospitals..Wilson: So far as bed management is concerned, small hospitals should be encouraged to have COVID treatment facilities ....Wilson: We are heading towards Delhi. I have consulted experts, that is why I was eager to place before your Lordships. Today we have a different picture. Even if this Bench monitors once every 3 days during vacation, I would be happy.. we should have inter sectional coordination.Wilson raises concern over wastage of COVID vaccines, points out it has be used in 3-4 hours after opening. Delhi HC also came across wastage, he notes. .If there is a residual dose of vaccine, let it not be wasted, can be used, Wilson says..Court says that it will take up the matter again in the afternoon, after a full Bench hearing. Asks AG and ASG to make their submissions then, if they have anything more to say. .Puducherry Government pleader submits that it has filed its status report, as directed earlier..Bench rises for lunch break. .AG: In the morning I had made a statement that Sterlite is capable of making 35 MT liquid oxygen... but the gaseous oxygen, they have now promised they will increase the liquefaction and convert a part of gaseous Oxygen also into Liquid Oxygen.AG adds that he is informed that Sterlite is taking expeditous steps to install a plant for compression and bottling..AG informs that retail sale of Remdesivir has already started at Kilpauk today, where it is available for sale at Rs 1400 plus GST..On Remdesivir and Oxygen supply, AG adds: Everything is being done by Central Govt. They have now suddenly diverted 80 MT of oxygen to neighboring states. That is one issue we are facing, which we are taking up with the Central Govt. .Court asks how black marketing of Remdesivir happens: Where do these private persons get...? AG: Most manufacturers are in Maharashtra and Gujarat. They are able to source from there and do this... .ASG R Sankaranarayanan submits for the Central Govt that he will give his response by tomorrow evening on allegations made regarding diversion of oxygen to other States..Sankaranarayanan makes submissions on the allocation of remdesivir to TN; 59,000 vials allocated, he reads..Government Pleader N Mala makes submissions on COVID-19 management in Puducherry. Says all of the court's queries are answered in the affidavit filed..GP Mala reads from the affidavit: 9867 beds totally available in Puducherry, 5234 kept ready 229 ICU beds in non-covid hospitals Over 7 L samples take, 52271 tested positive. 737 deaths 1354 hospitalized1.4% fatality rate 85.6% recovery rate.Over 1.82 lakh persons vaccinated, which is about 1,500 per day being vaccinated. 60,040 doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been given. 1 lakh more to be allocated by Centre, Puducherry Govt submits. Total population of Puducherry is 9 lakhs..Have a nodal officer for the vaccination campaign, Puducherry GP adds. Court puts forward the suggestion of restricting people's movement during May 2 counting day to ensure vote counting doesn't lead to COVID surge, asks counsel to consider the same for Puducherry..Senior Advocate Satish Parasaran makes submissions. Court thanks him and other senior counsel including Senior Advocate PS Raman for "sparing your corporate time" in this matter. Parasaran: This is something that affects everyone, this is important.Health Secretary, TN present. Says that its COVID info website will soon be made a live app. Also submits that Govt is rapidly ramping up oxygen beds. Work ongoing to add about 1,400 beds. Actions being taken not only in Chennai, but other districts incl Coimbatore, Madurai etc..50-55% of active COVID cases are in home quarantine, Health Secretary submits..Advocate Sankar Shanmugam emphasises on need to frame food chart when it comes to the prevention part of the fight against COVID-19; on the cure side, he says that alternative medicines, Indian-based medicines should also be promoted so the rush of Remdesivir also comes down..Court dictates order, notes that the matters pertain to the state of preparedness in TN and Puducherry in COVID-19 pandemic, records that status report has been filed in the matter, records the presence of Health Secretary, TN. .Madras High Court: It is most heartening to see busy corporate practitioners dedicate time to attend this hearing in larger public interest and ensuring that all heads are put together to try and create the best facilities and think ahead of the worst that may be still to come.Court: Status reports indicate that there are testing centres & screening centres set up in TN and based on the extent of the infection suffered... such person is recommended home treatment and quarantine in most cases ......... or hospitalization without being immediately admitted to ICCU or bed supported by Oxygen cylinder, oxygen beds, ICCU and the like: Court.Court: Serious apprehension on behalf of the state expressed that in most cases, the panic created by the relatives of a person afflicted by the virus creates the problem in the sense that w/o undertaking the screening, patients are directly brought to govt hospitals....Court: ... and beds are sought in several cases, the patients may not require admission at all..Court: The other apprehension expressed... patient parties scrambling to obtain drug Remdesivir, which is admittedly in short supply.Court takes on record State's submission that in most cases, even admissions are not necessary and that state and the public interest would be served if an element of discretion is exercised and the protocol announced by the state over and over again followed..Court says that an "acceptable picture" is portrayed in State's affidavit on issues raised in the case..Though the state is quick to add that rate of increase may be falling, the number of persons affected has already crossed 1.10 lakhs against the figure in the early 80,000s when the matter was first taken up on April 22, 2021: Court records.State says that though there is adequate supply and storage of oxygen at the moment, it is not inclined to have oxygen diverted to anywhere else since daily use of oxygen has been on the rise & in worst-case scenario, all of available oxygen may be necessary: Court.ASG has taken note of AG's submissions and the fact that the CM has written to the PM to ensure that there is no further diversion of Oxygen from the State to anywhere else: Court records..Though such aspect of the matter is being exclusively being dealt with by SC, State informs this court that following an all-party meeting convened by CM this morning, a tentative decision has been taken to allow the Thoothukudi (plant of) Sterlite to manufacture oxygen: Court.State says only limited supply of oxygen may be initially available. But owners have assured State that immediate measures to be put in place by which gaseous oxygen can be converted to liquid oxygen for medicinal use with the appropriate content in excess of 99% Oxygen: Court.On the availability of Remdesivir 100, State says that such drug is not meant for everyday use by every person, nor is it a cure for COVID-19, though it reduces the person administered the drug from transmitting the virus to many others: Court .The State says that drugs such as Tocilizumab 400 enoxaparin 40 are also used in the treatment of COVID 19 and there is a sufficient supply of such drugs in the state at least in government hospitals and government centres: Court.Court takes on record submissions by State that number of beds, oxygen beds are being augmented, submission by Health Secretary that only 25% of persons struck by the virus may need hospital admission and 15% may need oxygen beds..Court takes on record the State's assurance that the Government's website will give real-time information on the availability of beds in a locality..Court: Several concerns raised on black marketing of drugs, on the number of beds being far too few and on the lack of information or knowledge regarding the availability of beds, drugs and doses of vaccines..Court records State's submission that certain norms have been indicated to private hospitals to prioritise admission of COVID patients, how Remdesivir is to be given or oxygen treatment to be given.At the suggestion of the court, the state has agreed to widely publicize do's and dont's and other steps to be taken or not taken. This will be done by issuing ads in the print and electronic media for the dissemination of information to the public at large.Court records submission that though number of beds and other facilities may be just about adequate now, the figures may double in less than 10 days and more beds, oxygen and more ventilators would be necessary along with a greater supply of medicines to treat symptoms..Union says it has taken note of TN's reluctance to diversion of oxygen to other states. ASG says that the state's views have been communicated to the highest authorities and the centre and immediate action may follow in the course of a day: Court records..Contrary to the earlier submission that #Remdesivir would be available at Rs 783 per vial, it is not available for sale at Rs 1400 per vial from a counter specifically started for such purpose at Kilpauk in Chennai: Court records State's submission..However, not everyone seeking the drug will be given. It is only upon production of appropriate documents including COVID positive test report, screening report and scan of lungs would drug be released..Counting must be done with complete adherence to COVID protocol, without any compromise, Court says. Court also notes Senior Advocate P Wilson's submission for augmenting the production of oxygen in by restarting vaccination units at Chengalpet, Coonoor, Ooty.Court notes submission that incidents of wastage of vaccine may be arrested by making the remainder of a vial available to anyone above age of 18 so there is no wastage of vaccine. There is no doubt that such aspect will get consideration from centre, Court says..Prices of the drugs, what is charged for admission into a private hospital, oxygen, and vaccination should be monitored and controlled by the state government: Court.Health Secretary has spoken of the Drugs Controllers under the State and the Union and their offices are being activated for keeping strict vigil against any black marketing of any drug during this period: Court records..Court suggests that State may impose a lockdown-like measure on May 1 and May 2, with adequate notice, since May 2 is vote counting day.."State may consider imposing lockdown on May 1 which was traditionally a holiday and on May 2, a Sunday and only allow movement of vehicles needed for the purpose of counting and emergency vehicles."."As of now, the situation does not appear to be completely out of control though there are some horror stories available in both the media and maybe anecdotal on social media."."... It appears that 59,000 vials have been allocated for the State (TN) and 30,000 for UT (Puducherry):" Court records Centre's submission on allocation of Remdesivir."... 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."."... It is hoped state and UT take measures to indicate basic norms, not exceeding 8-10 bullet points that may be circulated over electronic media or published in print media seeking to guide citizens instead of panicking and rushing to hospitals.".Court against 'VIP Culture': "It would also do well for the State and the UT to completely eschew the VIP culture and ensure that facilities are available to citizens without consideration of status or the like."."The situation in the State and UT will continue to be monitored by this Bench during summer vacation, irrespective of court going into vacation." .After the order dictation, CJ Sanjib Banerjee orally observes that all - executive, political parties and other authorities should have planned how to tackle the COVID-19 second wave.."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 also hints that the courts in TN would have COVID-19 vaccination camps at courts at the district level for lawyers, court officials, and their families on the 2nd and 3rd week of May.