The Madhya Pradesh High Court on Monday directed the state to ensure continuous and regular supply of oxygen, the remdesivir drug and other facilities required for treatment of coronavirus patients, the Hindustan Times reported.

The bench of Chief Justice Mohammad Rafiq and Justice Atul Sreedharan was hearing five petitions against alleged failure of the state government in dealing with the pandemic situation. In its 49-page order, the court noted that the health infrastructure situation in the state was not up to the mark, News18 reported. It took cognisance of media reports on shortage of hospital beds, remdesivir and oxygen in major cities including Bhopal, Gwalior, Indore and Jabalpur.

“If this is the scenario in major cities, one can easily imagine the situation in district headquarters, subdivisions and rural areas where the coronavirus is said to have made inroads,” the order stated.

On the supply of antiviral drug remedesivir, the court advised the state government to adopt a regulation process to ensure that the medicine is made available to patients within an hour after being prescribed. Madhya Pradesh is one of the states that has complained about a shortage of remdesivir, which is being used to treat critical coronavirus patients, even though medical opinion about its effectiveness has been mixed.

The court, in its order, also directed the government to ramp up testing and said that reports of RT-PCR tests should be made available within 36 hours.

Observing that the pandemic was a natural calamity, the High Court ordered the Centre to consider stepping in to arrange the oxygen by diverting the available stock of liquid medical oxygen from the steel plants and other industries located in other parts of the country, News18 reported. The Centre has already decided to prohibit supply of oxygen for industrial purposes, in order to divert the stock for medical use.

Meanwhile, Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan on Monday tweeted alleging that oxygen tankers meant to reach the state were stopped by officials of other states. He, however, did not name any state. He asked chief ministers to take action against officials for stopping oxygen tankers.