Himachal Pradesh Health and Family Welfare minister Rajeev Saizal on Monday asked the state Congress leaders to refrain from making “false accusations” against the health department on purchases during Covid-19 pandemic.

“If they continue with baseless allegations to mislead the public on the issue, the government will not hesitate to take legal action against them,” he said.

Saizal said the recent allegations by former health and family welfare minister and senior Congress leader Kaul Singh Thakur against refilling of medical oxygen cylinders and purchase of pulse oximeters by the health department at higher rate during Covid-19 were totally false.

“Proper procedures were followed by the department at every step. The oximeters initially were purchased at higher rates because there were issues of availability, mobility etc during Covid lockdown. It was an extraordinary situation,” he said.

The minister said the health department has the biggest responsibility in Covid-19, so the questioning is obvious. “However, the former health minister has spoken in public so irresponsibly, without facts. This creates an environment of doubt and unrest in public. The senior leader should not have done it,” he said.

Saizal said the inquiry into the incident of alleged suicide by Covid patient in Deen Dyal Upadhyaya (DDU) hospital was complete and action is being taken into it. Asked that the Medical Superintendent of DDU hospital was on leave those days and is still being charged sheeted, the minister said, “ One can’t shun responsibility even if he or she is on leave. I am the health minister. If I am on leave, it does not mean, I am not responsible,” he said.

The health minister said the ‘community spread’ is already there in Himachal Pradesh and the state government had admitted it during the Monsoon session of state assembly.

He said the state government has done good work during Covid-19. “The figures show it. At present there are 2640 active cases in Himachal, 263 deaths. The recovery rate is 84.5 per cent. The death rate of HP is 1.39 per cent, which is lesser than Chandigarh (1.52 %), Punjab (3.1 %), Uttarakhand (1.60 %) and J&K (1.5%),” he said. He said 99 per cent deaths due to Covid have occurred in co-morbid conditions in patients, and just one per cent is classic Covid death in HP.

Saizal said the graph of new Covid cases is likely to go down, given the situation. He said it is wrong to say that the testing is being reduced. “Right now 3100-3200 Covid tests are being done everyday in HP and the state government intends to increase them to 4000 per day,” he said.