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'Public Health More Important than Counting Votes': Madras High Court Suggests Lockdown on May 1 & 2 [READ ORDER]

By Snehal Khemka      Apr 29, 2021      0 Comments      1,125 Views
Public Health More Important than Counting Votes

The Madras High Court on Monday, April 26, 2021 heard amatter pertaining to the state of preparedness in the wake of the pandemic in the State of Tamil Nadu and in the Union Territory of Puducherry and issued a slew of suggestions regarding COVID management in the state of Tamil Nadu & UT of Puducherry.

It said, " 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." 

The Bench comprising of Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee and Justice Senthil Ramamoorthy remarked that  if only the authorities had made proper plans and taken measures during last one year, the present 'tsunami of COVID19 infections could have been avoided.

The State argued that the patients were directly being brought into government hospitals or private nursing homes and beds are sought when, in several cases, the patient may not require admission at all. Additionally, a number of patients were scrambling to obtain the drug Remdesivir which was, admittedly, in short supply.

It was submitted on behalf of the State that in most cases even admission may not be necessary and the State and the public interest would be better served if an element of discretion were exercised and the protocol that is being announced by the State, over and over again, was followed.

As far as the supplies of oxygen, Remdesivir and related drugs, ventilators, beds, doses of vaccine is concerned, the Court found that the status report filed by the State Government painted quite an acceptable picture.

However, the State did accept before the Court that if the upward trend continued, in the sense that more people get infected today than yesterday and yesterday was more than the day before, further measures have to be adopted. 

More importantly¸ the State said that though there was adequate supply of oxygen at the moment, the State was not inclined to have oxygen diverted to anywhere else since the daily use of oxygen has been on the rise and, in a worst-case scenario, all of the available oxygen in the State may be necessary.

In this backdrop, the Court also noted that more oxygen and more ventilators would be necessary along with a greater supply of medicines to treat the symptoms in coming days when the COVID cases would rise. Further, underlining that Remdesivir was not meant for everyday use by every person, nor was it a cure for Covid-19, the State Government submitted that there was a sufficient supply of such drugs such as Tocilizumab 400mg and Enoxaparian 40mg which are also used in the treatment of Covid-19.

Further, on the suggestions of the Court, the State Government agreed to widely publicize the do's and don'ts and the other steps that may be taken or not taken by issuing advertisements in the print and electronic media for dissemination of information to the public at large. 

Relevant information is already available, according to the State, on the State website,  www.stopcorona.tn.gov.in and the Health Secretary promised that real-time information would be made available, indicating the availability of beds in the locality and the likes.

Lastly, stating that " Public health, after all, is more important than counting votes. The process may be delayed or even deferred, but public health must not be compromised," the Madras High Court, in its order, observed that both Tamil Nadu and Puducherry needed to be particularly aware of the fact that counting of votes will be undertaken from the early hours of May 2, 2021, and the counting activities must be held in complete Covid protocol, without any compromise at all.



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