Ambulances carrying patients cannot be stopped from entering Telangana, the High Court ordered today. The ruling came in response to such vehicles from neighbouring Andhra Pradesh being stopped at the border by the police in keeping with a government order.
The order, issued by Telangana Chief Secretary Somesh Kumar, says only those patients with permission and prior tie-up for admission to hospitals in the state for covid must be allowed.
"In the absence of prior tie-up with hospitals, patients not only lose valuable time moving from one hospital to another, but also potentially spread the infection of different strains," the Chief Secretary's order dated May 11 had said.
"On receipt of proposal from the hospital, the control room will issue authorisation to travel, based on which the patient can come to Telangana for hospitalisation," it said, putting the onus on the control room set up exclusively for this.
Telangana officials say that up to 45 per cent of the ICU beds in the state had been occupied by patients from outside, including Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh, and Karnataka. This could lead to a crunch, despite bed capacity being increased from 18,000 to 58,000 during the pandemic.
"We are not stopping patients from coming for treatment. We are only asking them to tie up with the hospitals and come with authorised permission. Whereas some states do not even allow entry without a covid-negative certificate," an official said.
The state has 58,000 active cases and has been reporting fewer than 5,000 new COVID-19 cases per day for the past many days.
Some political parties had protested against the order at border points with dozens of patients stranded there.
The High Court today stayed the government order saying it was wrong. It cited Articles 15, 19 1D, and 21, saying everyone has the right to life and medical care and has the freedom of movement.