New Delhi: Amid an exponential rise in coronavirus cases, the Supreme Court has urged the Centre and states “to consider imposing a lockdown to break the chain in the interest of public welfare”. It also directed the central government to revisit its initiatives and protocols, including the availability of oxygen, availability and pricing of vaccines, and availability of essential drugs at affordable prices. Also Read - Haryana Imposes Complete Lockdown For 7 Days From Tomorrow, Essential Services Exempted

A three-member apex court bench, comprising Justice D Y Chandrachud, Justice L Nageswara Rao and Justice Ravindra Bhat said, “We are cognisant of the socio-economic impact of a lockdown, specifically, on the marginalized communities… thus, in case the measure of a lockdown is imposed, arrangements must be made beforehand to cater to the needs of these communities.”

Moreover, the top court asked the Centre to formulate within two weeks a national policy on admissions to hospitals in the wake of the second wave of COVID-19 and said no patient shall be denied hospitalisation or essential drugs in any state for lack of local residential proof.

The Supreme Court’s observation comes as India continues to reel under the second wave of coronavirus. The country has been recording over 3 lakh cases for past few weeks. In the last 24 hours, it reported over 3.68 fresh COVID-19 cases. The 3,68,147 new infections take active COVID cases in India to 34,13,642. Meanwhile, 3,417 people died due to coronavirus, taking the total death toll in India from the pandemic to 2,18,959.

On April 20, the Centre had revised its vaccine policy and asserted it would procure 50 per cent of the Covishield and Covaxin supplies at Rs 150 per dose and allowed states and private hospitals to procure 50 per cent of the quota on their own. The vaccination drive opens for all above 18 years from May 1.

After the revision in the policy, SII, the manufacturer of Covishield, has said that its cost for states will be Rs 400 per dose and Rs 600 per shot for private hospitals. Bharat Biotech’s covaxin can be procured by states and private hospitals channels at Rs 600 and Rs 1,200 per dose respectively.