The Gujarat High Court on Wednesday noted that the recent civic body elections and the careless attitude of the public had led to a surge in coronavirus cases in the state, Live Law reported. The court offered several suggestions on how the government could prepare itself to tackle the crisis, anticipating “the worst in the near future”.

The court made the observation while hearing a public interest litigation on matters related to the coronavirus crisis.

“Just when things started looking a little better and the conditions in the major cities across the state of Gujarat started improving, the elections of the various civic bodies at different levels and the carefree attitude of the people has once again spoilt the show and has put us back into a situation of concern,” a division bench of Chief Justice Vikram Nath and Justice JB Pardiwala said, according to Live Law. “Be that as it may, what cannot be cured has to be endured.”

The bench asked the state government to increase coronavirus testing in major cities and make masks mandatory. “Strict vigilance should be deployed at all the major public places and centers of the cities of Ahmedabad, Surat, Vadodara, Rajkot, Jamnagar and Bhavnagar,” the court added, according to Live Law.

The Gujarat High Court also said that the people needed to be cautioned about their carefree attitude compelling the government to impose another lockdown. It asked the government to consider whether the limit on the number of guests at weddings and other events imposed earlier should be continued, according to Ahmedabad Mirror.

“We have no idea what the protocols are or the rules and regulations of the state government as regards public functions like marriages, etc,” the court said, according to the newspaper. “Whether any restrictions as regard to the number of invitees as earlier imposed should be continued or not, is also one important aspect which the government needs to keep in mind.”

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The court also directed the government to ensure that it had sufficient coronavirus-designated hospitals and beds.

The Gujarat High Court took note of Ahmedabad Mirror’s March 2 report about senior doctors increasingly opting for voluntary retirement because of “lethargic bureaucracy” and mismanagement. The report also cited doctors who claimed they were facing delays in the supply of essential equipment.

“The newspaper reporting reflects on the tardy affairs of the Health Department of the State,” the court said, according to Live Law. “We express our concern only keeping in mind the interest of the people hailing from the poor strata of society. If there are no adequate number of doctors, then it is only the people from the poor strata of society who would have to suffer.”’

The court said there was an acute dearth of medical experts, as posts were lying vacant for a long period, adding that this was something that required dedicated attention, especially during a pandemic like Covid-19.

Gujarat has been reporting a high number of daily coronavirus cases. The state registered 675 cases on Wednesday, taking the overall count to 2,75,197. Surat, Ahmedabad, Vadodara and Rajkot accounted for 75% of the new cases, according to Ahmedabad Mirror. No death was reported in Gujarat till Wednesday night, with the state toll at 4,418. The number of active cases in the state stood at 3,529, while the number of recoveries reached 2,67,250.