Hyderabad: The Telangana High Court on Wednesday directed the state government to submit the blueprint of how the government was going to administer the Covid-19 vaccine to all those who are above the age of 18 and to submit the details of how many vaccines it had ordered from the manufacturers globally for state needs.
The court also ordered the authorities to issue fresh government orders (GOs) by fixing the price cap to Covid-related services at private hospitals, diagnostic centres, medical equipment and others.
A division bench comprising Chief Justice Hima Kohli and Justice B. Vijaysen Reddy, was told by director of Telangana state public health G. Srinivasa Rao, that the state was the frontrunner in procuring the vaccines directly from manufacturers by calling global tenders. He also submitted that two vaccine manufacturers, Russia’s Sputnik and Oxford’s AstraZeneca positively responded to state’s bidding.
The court was told that within a few days after June 4, the bids would be finalised and the government was making efforts to vaccinate the 1.84 crore population belonging to the age groups between 18 and 44.
The court then directed Srinivas Rao to submit an action plan and details of how many vaccines were ordered by the Telangana state. All details should be given about the time period of the vaccination and how it was going to administer the vaccines in rural areas, particularly in tribal and scheduled areas.
All details must be reported to the court by June 10. The government submitted to the court that 37 lakhs people above the age of 45 years were yet to get their first shot of the vaccine, whereas only 12.86 lakhs had taken two doses out of the 92 lakhs in Telangana, who are above the age of 45 years.
The same division bench also added that as several complaints were reported about fleecing of Covid patients by private hospitals, the government should fix the price cap. It said that fresh GOs should be submitted to the court by June 10, the court said, adding that If the government was reluctant to issue the fresh GOs, then the principal secretary of health should appear before the court and submit the reasons.
On other hand, the court was unhappy with the health department’s decision to cancel licences of 22 private hospitals for overcharging patients. The court suggested the government to put control over private Hospitals as the ‘Sword of Damocles’ on their heads, instead of delisting them from providing services.
Considering the proposals put forward by counsel N.S Arjun Kumar, the court suggested the government to initiate criminal proceedings against the private hospitals which overcharge the patients and impose a penalty 10 times higher than the overcharged amount, instead of cancelling their licenses.
The bench was dealing with PILs related to the management of Covid -19 in Telangana. The Director of Public Health appeared virtually before the court and replied to several queries posed by the court. He explained that a total amount of around Rs 3 crore had been returned by the private hospitals to some of the victims of exorbitant charges.
He also submitted that Telangana had enough medicines to deal with the black fungus cases and post-Covid complications. Apart from the ENT Hospital, Gandhi Hospital, MGM Hospital in Warangal and the Government Hospital in Nizamabad have been designated to give treatment to black fungus.
Senior counsel L Ravichander brought to the notice of the court the discrepancies in government websites on bed availability. He explained that even after several hospitals were delisted from the Covid designated hospitals list, the old number of beds were appearing in the website. He also pointed out the non-constitution of a state level experts committee to monitor cases, despite the court orders.
Concerned over a possible third wave, and anticipating its impact on children, Justice Kohli said our future generations, on which we were all going to depend, should be safeguarded from the third wave. She directed the government to file counter, explaining the manner on how it could enhance the paediatric services.