The Uttar Pradesh government said strict measures have been taken to contain the surge in the number of COVID-19 cases and added that more such steps are being taken, while ruling out the possibility of a lockdown despite directions issued earlier in the day by the Allahabad High Court.
Hearing a public interest litigation on the inhuman conditions in the quarantine centres, a two-judge bench of the High Court observed that the recent surge in the number of cases “has virtually incapacitated all our medical infrastructure in the state of UP, and specially in cities like Prayagraj, Lucknow, Varanasi, Kanpur and Gorakhpur. It appears that the pandemic is teasing the system in a situation where patients have outnumbered the hospital beds and people are just running from pillar to post….Before it further spirals to engulf in it the entire population of these badly hit districts, it is necessary to take some harsh steps in larger public interest”
In the five aforementioned districts, which are the worst hit in the state, the court had suggested extensive restriction till April 26.
On the court's list of establishments that should be closed were all shopping complexes and malls, all government and private institutions, grocery shops employing more than three workers, hotels, restaurants and small eating joints, all educational institutions, and religious establishments. Exceptions were to be given to financial institutions, medical and health services, industrial and scientific establishments and municipal departments. All religious services were to be shut down and marriages were not to take place without necessary permission from the respective DMs.
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The court also suggested that the state government “go robust for implementing the current vaccination programme.” The court’s directives were to come into force from the night of April 19.
A government issued note by Additional Chief Secretary Information Navneet Sehgal however said, “Government has to save livelihoods with life. There will not be complete lockdown in cities for now. People are themselves imposing a lockdown at numerous places”.
The government stance in court has been that strict measures have been taken and shall be further taken in the future.
The HC has however termed these ‘farce’, ‘shame’ and an ‘eyewash’. “Those in the helm of affairs of governance are to be blamed for the present chaotic health problems and more so when there is a democracy which means a government of the people, by the people and for the people….If people die of pandemic in a large number due to paucity of sufficient medical aid it would be the government to blame, which failed to counter the pandemic even after one long year of experience and learning. One would only laugh at us that we have enough to spend on elections and very little to spend on public health,” the court noted.
The state recorded 28,287 new COVID-19 cases in the past 24 hours.