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Provide real-time updates on availability of beds for COVID-19 patients, create centralized mechanism for securing ambulances: Karnataka HC

"According to us, making available updated data on beds is crucial to the people in the fight against COVID-19", the Court observed.

Rintu Mariam Biju

The Karnataka High Court today issued a set of directions while dealing with batch of pleas underlining the lack of medical facilities for COVID-19 patients in hospitals in the state.

The directions passed by Chief Justice Abhay Shreeniwas Oka and Justice Alok Aradhe read as follows:

  • State to ensure that the data on the website (https://apps.bbmpgov.in/covidbedstatus/) is regularly updated from time to time so that the most up-to-date information on the availability of beds is provided.

  • It would be appropriate for the State to issue directions to ensure that every hospital regularly submits information the availability of beds at regular intervals so that the same can be uploaded on the website.

  • There is no specific direction that patients getting admitted for non-COVID treatment need not undergo the COVID test. State to issue such a specific direction.

  • On the point of ambulances, it will be appropriate if a centralized mechanism is created where patients can secure private ambulances in case ambulances under 108 helpline is not available.

  • State to clarify whether insurance scheme for health workers is applicable to contract workers and staff doing the cleaning work in hospitals of the state.

  • State to constitute Expert Committee of Doctors as per Supreme Court directions immediately.

  • BBMP to state whether Pourakarmikas (Sanitisation workers) are entitled to receive insurance benefits under the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Package.

Apart from this, the Court also pointed out that there are several grey areas with respect to handing over custody of dead bodies and permitting relatives to perform last rites, identification of such dead bodies, and the protocol for dealing with dead bodies.

The Court was informed that BBMP had issued two protocols on July 17 and 21. BBMP has been directed to place the same on record. Further, the state government has been urged to adopt similar protocols.

In its order, the Court further said,

"According to us, making available updated data on beds is crucial to the people in the fight against COVID-19."

On the point of ambulances, the State submitted that for exclusive transportation of COVID-19 positive and COVID suspect patients, a total of 700 ambulances (equipped with both basic life support and advance life support) are readily available in Bengaluru city.

The Court was further informed that the State Director, Health and Family Welfare Department, had issued a circular dated July 22 directing sample collection centres, labs, and fever clinics to inform persons who have provided samples to strictly self-isolate until the test results are communicated.

On this issue, the Court opined that it would be appropriate for the State to make this circular available to all labs which are having recognized facilities for COVID-19 testing.

The State was also asked to direct labs to provide a copy of the circular to persons coming in for testing, in both Kannada and English.

These directions were passed by the Bench in two letter petitions and related matters underlining the lack of medical facilities for COVID-19 patients in hospitals.

The matter will be next heard on July 27.

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