The Madras High Court on Monday referred to ‘concerns’ of under-reporting of Covid-19 cases and said it was ‘necessary’ that accurate figures are shown so as to ensure adequate allocation of drugs and vaccines, among others, based on the said numbers. The first bench of Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee and Justice Senthilkumar Ramamoorthy also called for every endeavour to ensure dignity to the departed.
The bench made the obeservations while hearing a case taken up on its own on covid management in Tamil Nadu and Puducherry. “Some concerns have also been expressed on the under reporting of cases. Indeed, the ICMR guidelines pertaining to the recording of Covid deaths and the WHO guidelines in such regard have been placed.” “It is also necessary that accurate numbers are indicated so that the allocation of drugs, oxygen and even vaccines can be made based on the true figures. At any rate, the testing rates should not dip to artificially show lower numbers,” the court said.
The court further noted that several appearing parties had highlighted the way in which bodies have been kept in the hospital wards several hours after the death of the patient and the manner in which “some deaths are not attributed to Covid” and also protocol in such cases not being maintained. “Surely, the authorities need to remove the dead bodies as soon as possible, but it is also to be appreciated that the number of deaths may be more than the mortuary facilities available at the hospital,” the court added.
However, if there has been a Covid death, even though the overwhelming factors may have been other co-morbidities suffered by the patient, the protocol has to be maintained so that the body is disposed of in accordance with such protocol and it does not become a source of further infection, the judges said. “In several cases, there appears to be a lack of dignity in how the dead bodies are treated and all concerned should make every endeavour to accord a level of dignity to the departed, at least for the final time,” the court noted.