Karnataka HC seeks state response on the number of beds for COVID-19 patients and on rates for COVID 19 treatment4 min read

By- Akshay Gurnani

The Bench took suo motu cognizance of two-letter petitions underlining the lack of medical facilities for COVID-19 patients in hospitals.
The Karnataka High Court today posed a set of questions to the state government ranging from the number of available beds for COVID-19 patients to the mechanism adopted to control the cost of COVID-19 treatment. These questions were asked by the Court in letter petitions underlining the lack of medical facilities for COVID-19 patients in hospitals.
The Bench took suo motu cognizance of the issues based on two letters written by Advocate P Chengappa and the Advocates Association, Bangalore (AAB). A Division Bench of Chief Justice Abhay Shreeniwas Oka and Justice Nataraj Rangaswamy asked the state government to place the following on record:
Total number of beds available in the city, the number of beds available in ICU, with or without the facility of ventilators within the limits of BBMP.
The manner in which the availability of beds is notified for the benefit of the public.
Whether any mechanism is available in the city or whether any authority is nominated which will ensure that a person who is COVID-19 positive is immediately admitted to a hospital? The question is whether any centralized mechanism in created so that, without any loss of time, the COVID-19 positive person secures admission.
The extent of facilities available in the COVID facility center set up by the state government and by BBMP or in the hospitals run by the state government.
Whenever a COVID-19 positive person requires immediate hospitalization, in what manner he can secure services of ambulances at the earliest?
Whether state government has imposed an embargo on rates of treatments for treating COVID-19 patients in private hospitals and establishments?
Whether a written protocol or SOP is available for giving decent burial or cremation of dead bodies of COVID-19 infected patients?
Whether any scientific data/opinion is made available on the question of whether a person who touches the dead body of a COVID-19 patient has chances of getting COVID-19?
This apart, the Bench also looked into a Times of India (TOI) news report which indicated a ‘sorry state of affairs’ in the city of Bengaluru, wherein a person who was tested positive for COVID-19 was denied treatment in 18 different hospitals and subsequently succumbed to the virus. The Court has ordered the state to conduct an inquiry into the matter.
Yesterday, the Bench had issued notice to the Central government, the state government, and Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) after taking suo motu cognizance of two letters underlining the lack of medical facilities for COVID-19 patients.
The first letter addressed by Chengappa, dated July 4 highlighted the difficulties of COVID-19 patients in getting immediate medical attention.
The letter said that even though there are beds available in hospitals, patients are not being admitted. Further, it is alleged that even non-COVID patients are denied treatment citing the possibility of their contracting the virus. The letter petition reads,
“That, since the past 4 days it has become a common grouse for patients to wait for long hours in the hope of being admitted to a hospital, desperately running from one hospital to another in the hope that some hospital will be kind enough to admit patient.”
The letter further pointed out that the certain staff of the BBMP was behaving in a very insensitive manner, by creating a lot of ruckus and noise while fumigating the houses of COVID-19 patients. Due to this, these families are being ostracized by many, and this fear is even bigger than the virus, the letter states.
The second letter written by AAB highlighted the excessive charges levied for COVID-19 treatment by hospital authorities when patients were required to be admitted in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU).
On these grounds, the letter petitions urged the Court to issue directions to the authorities to ensure that a sufficient number of beds are available for patients, and to provide immediate medical attention at reasonable prices to all affected persons.
This apart, it was further prayed that health insurance is given to the general public particularly, the lawyer community.
The matter will be next heard on July 9.

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