A division bench of the Tripura High Court, comprising Chief Justice Akil Kureshi and Justice Subhashish Talapatra on Tuesday observed: 'The people of the state should not get a false idea that there is a dramatic improvement in the coronavirus spread and that life should go back to normal. This would be a serious mistake with serious consequences". The apex court's observation came on the heels of an 'action taken report' submitted by the government on the recommendations of a central expert team for improvement of the COVID 19 situation in the state.
The High Court of Tripura on Sept 11 directed the state government to submit an affidavit within September 18 providing detailed information on the infrastructure available in state-run G B Pant Hospital (at the capital) to treat coronavirus patients. The apex court took suo motu cognizance of media reports on the plight of COVID-19 patients and their relatives in the hospital. However, the court was not satisfied with the replies from the state government and asked the government to furnish more inputs about improving the situation.
Meanwhile, a two-member central health team comprising two senior doctors, Daisy Panna, consultant epidemiologist, National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), and P.K. Verma, assistant professor, respiratory medicine, Lady Hardinge Memorial College (LHMC), visited different parts of Tripura for 10 days and concluded their works on Sept 18 last. The government submitted the 'action taken report', which came up for hearing on Tuesday (October 6).
The High Court further observed that the positivity rate of the state in the recent past has been quite high. To be precise the positivity rate appeared to be above 10 per cent of the samples tested. In the initial days this was about 6.75 per cent."The people of the state should not get a false idea that there is a dramatic improvement in the coronavirus spread and that life should go back to normal. This would be a serious mistake with serious consequences", the court cautioned.
The court also said that the comparison of these figures would show that over a period of time the number of tests conducted every day has come down substantially.
A few shortcomings in the health administration have been pointed out and matching recommendations for better management have been made.In the period from September 9 to September 25 the samples tested per day ranged between 3,500 to 4,500. On some days it was more. After 25 September the numbers have dwindled and hover around 2,000 per day.
The Advocate General Arun Kanti Bhowmik apprised the court that this was mainly on account of the policy decisions taken by the government The government had decided not to test every passenger arriving in Agartala by air or by other routes since the positivity rate amongst such passengers was found to be very low. The comparative cost and effort entailed in testing on the other hand was pretty high. The court also said that the experts committee has submitted its report which contains a number of recommendations. A few shortcomings in the health administration have been pointed out and matching recommendations for better management have been made.
The central committee had pointed out that certain important equipment such as ventilators and X-ray and CT chest machines were either not installed or not in working condition, to which the advocate general orally stated that most of these defects have been removed. The court requested the state government to implement the recommendations made by the experts committee as early as possible and place an additional affidavit with further details on steps taken on recommendations of the central committee. The court has fixed the next date of hearing on October 13 next.
The central expert committee report said, 10 BIPAP machines and 19 ventilators in the G B Pant Hospital, the state's main dedicated COVID hospital are not in use. There is a death register in the hospital, which records the date of deaths, but there are no records like, what disease the deceased was suffering from. There is one infection control committee, which has no records of their meeting minutes or agenda. When the team visited the hospital the X-ray machine and the CT scan machines were not functioning. There were no display of the duty chart of doctors and the doctor on call. However, what was more alarming is that many used PPE kits were strewn on the floors of the hospital and many staff members were moving in the wards without PPE.
The team has suggested improvement of the situation that included immediate installation of the X ray and CT scan machines, ventilators and setting up of oxygen plants in all the eight districts of the state. It further suggested that the doctors after completion of their rounds should meet together and review the situation and all the ICUs in all hospitals should be made fully operational. The report suggested increasing the rate of virus test in the containment zones.