Covid spike: Sikkim HC notes low number of hospital, ICU beds with concern

The Sikkim High Court has expressed concern over the “woefully low” number of hospital beds available for Covid-19 patients in the state.

The Division Bench of Justices Meenakshi Madan Rai and Bhaskar Raj Pradhan, passed this order while hearing a suo motu PIL for Covid-19 management. In this petition, considering the urgency in the matter in view of the prevailing circumstances due to the onslaught of the pandemic, discussions with regard to immediate concerns were taken up, these included bed capacities in the STNM Hospital and across hospitals in other districts including ICU beds.

The Court was informed that presently ICU facilities were not available in district hospitals. Further, emergency arrangements for Covid patients are almost non-existent and no oxygen supply is available at primary health centres and sub-health centres.

The Court noted that there appears to be a dearth of ambulances for Covid duty and the number of drivers engaged for existing ambulances. The beds identified for patients with Covid in the STNM Hospital and district hospitals are evidently woefully low considering the number of persons who are reported to be infected by the virus on a daily basis vis-à-vis the state population.

The Amicus Curiae reports that arrangements for Grade III and Grade IV staff of the Hospitals who are also Covid warriors are deficient and requires to be addressed immediately, if their well-being is to be taken into consideration and the health of the members of their families are also to be considered.

The situation in the primary health centres and sub-health centres across the state with regard to preparedness for Covid treatment were also considered and we are informed that emergency arrangements for patients with Covid are almost non-existent and no supplies of oxygen are available at such centres, the Court said.

The Court also noted that,

The testing facilities require augmentation in terms of increasing the number of centres for testing which presently is available only in the East District that too at two hospitals.

“ICU patients are being brought to the STNM Hospital from other districts and a lack of coordination among the hospitals with regard to bed availability, admittedly led to the loss of life of a 26 year old woman who was brought in an ambulance from Singtam, but succumbed to the disease, on account of paucity of bed in the ICU and non-availability of oxygen,” the petition said.

Awareness generation with regard to the vaccine registration and the protocol to be followed when patient is found to be tested Covid positive is to be taken up on a priority, the Court added.

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“These points may be taken up for consideration by the Additional Advocate General and report submitted on these counts along with other topics that arose for discussion including strengthening of frontline warriors by way of increase in numbers,” the order said.

The Court has fixed the next hearing on May 15.
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