What is the step beyond night curfew, asks High Court

Reported fleecing of COVID patients by some government hospitals is like vultures living on flesh, Chief Justice observes

Observing that it was “not at all satisfied” with the information furnished by State government on COVID-19 situation in the State, Telangana High Court on Tuesday sought to know from the government: “What is the next step beyond night curfew”.

“Telangana government has to take a call beyond night curfew”, observed a bench of Chief Justice Hima Kohli and Justice B. Vijaysen Reddy. The night curfew imposed by government comes to an end by Friday. Hearing a batch of PIL pleas on COVID-19 related matters, the bench noted that most of the issues raised in its previous 17-page order were not answered by the government. The bench earlier instructed the government to ensure private hospitals did not insist on RT-PCR report for admitting patients. But Advocate General B.S. Prasad failed to present any Government Order (GO) or notification from government on this point, the CJ observed.

The bench reminded the AG of the letter from Union Home Secretary to all Chief Secretaries of the States for enforcing containment framework and restrictions in places witnessing high incidence of coronavirus. The letter clearly indicated that more than 60% of the patients would require oxygen or Intensive Care Unit beds if COVID-19 positivity rate was 10% or more.

Referring to a newspaper report on alleged fleecing of patients at Telangana Institute of Medical Sciences (TIMS)-Gachibowli by the staff, the CJ said that it was “very unfortunate that people were being fleeced at government hospitals”. In such situation, it was better for people to approach private hospitals. “Please look at the hardships of the individuals being faced at TIMS”, the bench said.

The report said ambulance drivers were exploiting families of COVID-19 patients. “A patient was asked to shell out ₹15,000 for shifting him from Narepally to TIMS hospital in Gachchibowli,” the CJ said, noting that it was like vultures living on flesh.

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