1000s of HCWs benched due to infection; facing shortage: Delhi govt to HC

NEW DELHI: Delhi was facing a manpower shortage after losing four doctors to COVID-19 and thousands of healthcare professionals being infected, the AAP government informed the Delhi High Court on Monday and said it was "preposterous" to move a contempt petition against it over managing of dead bodies at such a time.

The submission was made before a bench of Chief Justice D N Patel and Justice Prateek Jalan by Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Sanjay Jain appearing for the Delhi government.

Jain said that at a time when four doctors have succumbed to COVID-19 with thousands more infected and the government is hard-pressed to find manpower to manage the system, it was "unfortunate" and "preposterous" that a contempt petition has been moved.

The plea moved by advocate Avadh Kaushik has sought contempt action against the Delhi government and medical director of LNJP hospital here for allegedly not adhering to the undertaking given to the high court with regard to handling bodies of COVID-19 victims.

Kaushik has alleged that bodies of the dead were lying in the same wards and corridors of the Lok Nayak Jai Prakash (LNJP) hospital where COVID-19 patients are being admitted and kept.

He has claimed that this a breach of the Delhi government undertaking in court that bodies would not be found lying in hospital wards or corridors.

The ASG further said that the issue of dead body management is also before the Supreme Court which on its own took up the issue based on media reports and is scheduled to hear further arguments on July 20.

After hearing the brief arguments, the bench said that since a similar matter is before the Supreme Court, which has issued guidelines regarding managing of dead bodies, and the Delhi government is taking steps as per them, "the present matters are adjourned to July 29".

Apart from the contempt plea, the bench was also hearing a PIL by the high court on its own based on news reports about the lack of facilities to cremate those who have died of COVID-19 and that such bodies were piling up in the mortuaries.

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