Madras High Court: The Division Bench of Sanjib Banerjee, CJ and Senthilkumar Ramamoorthy, J., addressed a few pertinent issues with respect to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“…the State of Tamil Nadu and the Union Territory of Puducherry have been able to manage the second surge of the pandemic and the worst, it is hoped, is over.” 

It was noted that there has been a slight fall in the number of COVID positive cases in the State of Tamil Nadu and UT of Puducherry, though the number of deaths has gone up in comparison to other States, the numbers are lowest in this State.

Oxygen Supply and Cyclone ‘Yaas’ 

It has also been stated that there is no clamouring for Oxygen, though the State apprehended that the 146 MT of daily oxygen from the eastern corridor is not being fully delivered on a regular basis as the same may be completely disrupted if the severe cyclone Yaas hits the east coast.

As per the State’s Health Secretary’s affidavit, Maharashtra has agreed to supply 20 MT of Oxygen and there is a hope that Centre has an alternative plan to ensure the supply of daily 519 MT of Oxygen to the State as allocated.

To the above concern, Additional Solicitor General assured the Court that the possible disruption due to the cyclone has been taken into consideration and the alternative arrangements may be indicated.

Beds in Hospitals

It has been noted that in private hospitals, rich and influential people are able to book a bed or an oxygenated bed without the patient in being need for the same, due to which the less fortunate are being denied beds, as beds in government hospitals appear to be all filled up.

COVID-19 Vaccine

Centre’s affidavit indicates the augmentation of the production of various manufacturing units. ASG informed the Court that as per the plan put in place by the Centre, 216 crore doses of vaccine should be available by the end of the year for all Indians to be fully vaccinated.

Awareness campaigns and like measures need to be undertaken to educate the citizens, particularly in the rural areas, to step forward and take the vaccine.

Superstitions and archaic beliefs practised in some communities stand in the way of scientific measures being implemented and there continues to be a resistance to accepting vaccination in certain sections of the society. Both the Centre and the State should take appropriate measures to allay the misgivings that may be harboured in such regard.

 Mucormycosis in the State

Mucormycosis cases are being subjected to a short supply of required drugs. To this, Centre has indicated that measures have been put in place to manufacture the drugs immediately and in bulk upon reducing the quantum of production of other medicines for the moment.

future allocation of vaccines for Tamil Nadu appears to be somewhat disappointing. 

Further, intervenors have suggested the prioritizing of personnel, delivering food, remaining healthcare workers, and even advocates and Judges who come into contact with litigants who should be vaccinated first when the vaccines supply in adequate.

Matters pertaining to COVID-19 shall appear next on May 27th, 2021 unless there is any urgency. [Suo Motu  v. Union Government of India, 2021 SCC OnLine Mad 1956, decided on 24-05-2021]

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