By LE Desk

Ahmedabad, April 20: The Gujarat High Court on Tuesday questioned the state government’s claim that there were enough beds for Covid-19 patients and sought to know why infected persons were still unable to get admitted, if beds were vacant.

In its submission on Tuesday, the state government informed the court that of 79,944 beds at COVID-19 hospitals and other care facilities in the state, 55,783 were occupied, while the rest were vacant, news agency PTI reported.

Government lawyer Manisha Shah made the submission during an online hearing on a plea filed suo moto two weeks ago by the division bench of Chief Justice Vikram Nath and Justice Bhargav Karia on the coronavirus situation.

“Complaints are coming, maybe you are also receiving that patients are not being admitted because there is no vacancy in hospitals. Beds are not available. The figures shared by you suggest that even designated hospitals have vacant beds,” the bench told the state.

“(If that is true) then why are people running around, finding sources and recommendations for getting hospitals beds and treatment?” the bench asked the state, PTI said.

The court also raised concerns about people’s claims that 108 ambulances are now taking considerable time to pick up patients who are in a critical condition.

Moreover, the court also sought to know why critical patients were not taken in by government hospitals, if they came in private vehicles instead of ”108” ambulances.

In the government’s defence, Ms Shah said that although beds were available at other facilities, some at a distance from patients’ homes, people want to get admitted to specific hospitals, which results in full occupancy in those hospitals.

Ms Shah also assured the court that the government has ensured adequate supply of medical oxygen and there was no scarcity of the life-saving gas at present.

A special control room has been set up at the Chief Minister’s Office to monitor the oxygen supply to hospitals, she added.

On a query raised by the bench about RT-PCR testing, Ms Shah informed that all districts have the facility to conduct these tests and the government conducts an average of 1.65 lakh tests, including around 75,000 RT-PCR tests, which are considered more accurate than antigen test.

Senior advocate Percy Kavina, who was allowed to share views of other High Court lawyers, expressed displeasure about the Centre’s decision of discontinuing a scheme of providing insurance cover to “corona warriors” under the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana (PMGKP).

“Only 287 insurance claims were processed under the PMGKP, which is now being shut. Just 287 claims across the country? Though the new scheme is coming, but why not continue PMGKP?” Ms Kavina asked.

After hearing all submissions, the court asked the government to file an affidavit and scheduled the next hearing on April 27.

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