NEW DELHI: A plea has been filed in the Supreme Court seeking a direction to the Centre to immediately assist the health ministry of Bihar government in dealing with the COVID-19 situation, claiming that public health care infrastructure in the state has "crumbled" due to the pandemic.
The public interest litigation (PIL) has alleged that Bihar government has failed to use the period of COVID-19 induced nationwide lockdown, which had commenced on March 25, to prepare its health infrastructure for the increased burden of coronavirus cases.
"The COVID-19 crisis has put unbearable stress upon an already broken system and consequently, the public health care infrastructure of Bihar has crumbled," the plea, filed by Patna-based businessman Aditya Jalan, said.
The plea, filed through advocate Roshan Santhalia, has also sought a direction to Bihar government to explain the reasons "leading to a complete failure" of public health system and to outline the steps which are required to be taken to deal with the situation.
It has claimed that there is lack of COVID-19 hospitals and hospital beds, insufficient medical personnel and testing, unsanitary quarantine centres, lack of enforcement of social distancing measures and authorities in the state have failed to provide personal protective equipment to frontline health workers.
"Bihar's health infrastructure has always been inadequate and the COVID-19 crisis has pushed it past its breaking point.
The COVID-19 crisis has been further exacerbated by the millions of migrant workers who have returned back to Bihar after the nationwide lockdown imposed in March, 2020 and by the annual floods which began in July," the plea said.
It alleged that positivity rate of COVID-19 cases has been "increasing exponentially" and Bihar has the "lowest testing rate" in the country.
"There are insufficient hospital beds available for COVID-19 patients and the available beds are often reserved for VIP persons and remain empty. 50 per cent of the positions for doctors remain vacant across Bihar and there are insufficient medical personnel to deal with the current crisis," it said, alleging that there are only four COVID-19 hospitals in the entire state.
It said that the COVID-19 crisis has been compounded by floods in the state.