The pandemic situation in Delhi has “worsened” and it has gone “out of control” in Gujarat, the Supreme Court said on Monday while expressing concern over the surge in number of COVID-19 cases across the country.
The apex court, which asked the Centre and all states to file within two days status reports detailing the steps taken to deal with the situation, said there is spike in COVID-19 cases in Maharashtra and authorities have to take steps and “prepare for the worst” for December.
“Things have worsened in Delhi especially in November. You file a status report on what steps have been taken,” a bench headed by Justice Ashok Bhushan told Additional Solicitor General Sanjay Jain, who was appearing for Delhi government.
“In Gujarat, situation is going out of control,” said the bench, also comprising Justices R S Reddy and M R Shah.
“There is spike in cases and this is only November. Prepare for the worst in December. You have to take steps,” the bench told the lawyer appearing for Maharashtra.
The top court said all efforts shall be made by the Centre and the states to mitigate the situation and to deal with the rising number of COVID-19 cases.
The bench was hearing a matter in which it had taken cognizance regarding need for proper treatment of COVID-19 patients and dignified handling of dead bodies in the hospitals.
It has posted the matter for further hearing on November 27.
Observing that there is a rise in COVID-19 cases across the country especially in Delhi, Maharashtra and Gujarat, the bench noted the submissions of Solicitor General Tushar Mehta who said that Union Home Minister Amit Shah had taken a meeting on November 15 and steps are being taken to deal with the situation in the national capital.
Jain told the bench that as per earlier order of the apex court, expert committee has been constituted and other directions have also been complied with by the Delhi government.
He said that a separate space has been earmarked for cremation of 385 bodies.
“We have no difficulty that you have complied with orders of this court. But looking at the present situation, what else are you doing,” the bench observed and asked Jain to file a status report.
The apex court also questioned the Gujarat government over its policy of marriage celebration during the pandemic time, saying cases are rising there and situation has worsened in the state after Delhi and Maharashtra.
“After Delhi and Maharashtra situation in Gujarat has also worsened. What is that you are allowing marriage celebration during day time? You file affidavit on the status report on steps taken as on date,” the bench said.
At the outset, Mehta said the matter is related to handling of dead bodies and it is “painful that the court has to deal with this issue.”
“It was only part of the order. It relates to the hospital situation also,” the bench observed.
In the June 19 order, the apex court had directed the Centre and states to set up expert panel for effective monitoring, supervision and guidance of government and COVID dedicated hospitals for providing proper health care to patients.
It had directed the Centre to bring uniformity in charges of testing and other facilities and ordered it to constitute an expert committee of senior doctors of Central government hospitals, GNCTD run hospitals, AIIMS and responsible officer from the Union health ministry.
It had said that the expert committee shall inspect, supervise and issue necessary directions to all government hospitals, COVID hospitals and other hospitals in NCT of Delhi for taking care of COVID patients and the panel shall ensure that at least one visit in each hospital be done weekly.
The top court had further directed that all states shall constitute an expert team of doctors and other experts for inspection, supervision and guidance of government hospitals and other hospitals dedicated to COVID-19 in each state.
It had said that the team may inspect, supervise the hospitals in the state and issue necessary directions for the improvement to the concerned hospital and report to the government.
The court had also issued directions with regard to the patient care and said, "All Covid-dedicated hospitals shall permit one willing attendant of the patient in the hospital premise, who can remain in an area earmarked by the hospital".