The Allahabad High Court has directed the Uttar Pradesh Government to come up with a 'blue print' for conducting mass testing for Covid-19, in the city of Prayagraj.
The division bench of Justice Siddhartha Varma and Justice Ajit Kumar has passed the above direction with hopes that if the proposal of mass testing in Prayagraj turns successful, then the same model may be implemented in the entire state of UP, as a measure to combat the pandemic.
"We suggest that the State of U.P. should begin with forming a procedure for the city of Prayagraj to undergo mass systematic testing and if we are able to succeed in the experiment then rest of the district of Prayagraj and thereafter all the districts of the State of U.P. can emulate the process.
The State alone can change the protocol of setting up Covid-19 testing centres. Under such circumstances, we desire that the State may come up with a complete blue print for dealing with the infection."
Yesterday, the High Court had asked the State Government whether random testing for the infection is possible.
"The Court upon seeing that the Covid-19 infection is increasing everyday in the State of U.P., is keen to know whether random testing is possible and what is the actual cost of Covid-19 testing for one particular individual," the bench had sought.
During the course of hearing today, Additional Advocate General Manish Goyal informed the Court that burden on the exchequer for testing of an individual is Rs.2500/-, pursuant to which suggestion for proceeding with mass testing was put forth by the Court.
"If widespread testing is done then people who are not infected can go out to work fearlessly and help the country to change the sprouting economy into a lush green one. If systematic tests are done then people who are infected would not go out and whether they are symptomatically or asymptomatically infected, would surely quarantine themselves in their homes or in the accommodations provided by the Government," the Court anticipated.
In order to get a systematic testing done, the High Court had also invited suggestions from the Bar which suggested detailed measures viz. conducting tests in each ward of the city, compulsory testing of every person who travels to their offices/ workplace, compulsory testing of persons entering the city, etc.
Finding merit in these suggestions, the Court observed,
"It is within the domain of the State Government to see how the above suggestions can be translated into action. They also have to see how feasible they are. The State alone can change the protocol of setting up Covid-19 testing centres. Under such circumstances, we desire that the State may come up with a complete blue print for dealing with the infection."
The court has now granted time to the State Government until June 25, 2020 and has scheduled a hearing at 10am on that day.
Further, the court noted that installation of testing machines on such a large scale may entail the certificate of the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR).
It therefore directed the Registrar General to inform the Assistant Solicitor General of India, on behalf of the Union of India, to seek instructions from the ICMR in the above regard.
"These instructions would be placed before us on the next date, when the Assistant Solicitor General of India or any counsel authorized by him representing Union of India shall also be present," the court ordered.
In the passing of the order, the division bench also sounded a note of appreciation for the UP Government which, ever since the lockdown was imposed, "has from time to time come up with various ways and methods to arrest the spread of the infection."
The court observed that even though the behaviour of Covid-19 virus is extremely erratic, the efforts put in by the State of UP had "borne results".
"State has made immense efforts to provide masks and sanitizers. Offices and buildings where people work, have been sanitized. For this work of extreme magnitude, we record our appreciation," the Bench added.
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