Gangtok: In the ongoing writ petition public interest litigation hearing on COVID-19 management in Sikkim, the High Court of Sikkim on September 1 observed that the State government has not framed standard operating procedures for the third wave of COVID 19. The Court observed, “The standard operating procedures for the anticipated third wave of COVID 19 is pending approval of the State government. The Learned Advocate General undertakes to place all details including care of children before this court within a week.”

Since the second wave in April, 233 people have succumbed to COVID 19 till September 2.

The High Court of Sikkim, in almost every hearing, has pressed on the need for Viral Research and Diagnostic Laboratory (VRDL) in every district of Sikkim, apart from the existing in STNM Hospital and Central Referral Hospital in Gangtok, East Sikkim. During the hearing on September 1, the Court observed, “The Assistant Solicitor General of India submits that the VRDL cannot be set up in the State in view of the scheme of the Government of India. However, in the affidavit submitted on July 22, it was informed that the State can approach the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), Ministry of Health for setting up the Integrated Public Health Laboratory. No steps on this count have been initiated by the State Respondents.”

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The High Court also observed in the aforementioned affidavit, that the state government can also set up their own Molecular Testing Laboratory, for which the State may buy equipment and consumables. “The Learned Advocate General is not able to update us today on this aspect and submits that he requires some time to obtain instructions,” mentions the Court.

On a brighter note, the Court observed there is no shortage of oxygen at the STNM Multi-speciality Hospital in Gangtok. “Oxygen plants for the district hospitals at Mangan, Gyalshing, Singtam and Namchi, have also been completed and commissioned.”

The Court further noticed among others that the state respondents have not complied with the directions inasmuch as the ambulance facilities and prescribed requirements thereof (to be) lacking. “The inpatient department does not have a screen between the beds, spittoons and urinals are not in place,” observed the Court.

The next hearing is due on September 7.

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