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Govt Should Not Restrict COVID-19 Tests Fearing 70% People Will Test Positive If More Tests Are Done : Gujarat HC

24 May 2020 10:58 AM GMT
Govt Should Not Restrict COVID-19 Tests Fearing 70% People Will Test Positive If More Tests Are Done : Gujarat HC
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The Gujarat High Court has observed that Gujarat Government should not restrict the number of COVID-19 tests on the fear that more tests would lead to 70% of the population testing positive.

"The argument that 'more number of tests will lead to 70% of the population testing positive for covid, thereby leading to fear psychosis' should not be a ground to refuse or restrict the testing", observed a bench comprising Justices J B Padriwala and Ilesh J Vora.

The bench observed this in response to the stand taken by Advocate General of Gujarat, Kamal Trivedi, that if everybody is tested, 70% of tested people would be found postive for COVID-19, creating fear psyhosis.

To address, the 'fear factor', the bench directed that the authorities must give wide publicity by way of newspaper advertisements that merely because someone has tested positive, is no reason to panic.

Awareness should be spread among public that asymptomatic patients can be cured through home and that one needs to visit hospital only after developing symptoms.

"The Respondent Authorities may keep a tab through the testing centres, of all individuals who have tested positive and may enforce isolation at home (as far as possible) or at a quarantine facility, and only in case of symptoms may be considered for being admission into Hospital", the Court observed.

The Court also asked whether 12 private laboratories and 19 govt laboratories are sufficient and good enough in the entire State to conduct the covid test, when the number of cases are constantly rising.

The Court also questioned the wisdom behind the State Government directive that COVID-19 testing should be done only in government laboratories, when there are ICMR approved private laboratories. 

The Court also wondered if it was an "action by the Government to artificially control the data qua the number of cases in the State of Gujarat".

In this regard, the bench referred to the recent judgment passed by the Telangana High Court, which quashed a similar restriction imposed by the Telangana Government.

Some of the petitioners questioned the rationale of the change in the guidelines of the ICMR regarding discharge policy of COVID-19 patients. As per the latest ICMR Guidelines, the patients with mild or moderate or no symptoms for 3 or more days, should be discharged without being tested with a prescription for home isolation. The petitioners submitted that there is no scientific data or research or reasoning explained for the sudden change in the guidelines.

It was argued that testing should be mandatory prior to discharging.

The Court has asked the Government to submit a report on these aspects by May 26, when the matter will be considered next.

The Court also raised alarm over the high mortality rate of COVID-19 patients in Ahmedabad Civil Hospital under the control of State Health Department, and observed that the conditions there were "pathetic". The Government has been asked to immediately resolve the issues such as lack of adequate number of ventilators there.

The Court also passed a slew of other directions concerning the welfare of migrants and their rail fare.

Read : Is State Govt Aware That COVID-19 Patients At Ahmedabad Civil Hospital Are Dying Because Of Lack Of Ventilators? Asks Gujarat HC [Read Order]

Waive Migrants' One Way Charges Or Levy Fare From State Govt: Gujarat HC Directs Railways [Read Order]

'We All Should Become Carpathia', Gujarat HC Recalls Titanic Saviour Ship To Urge People To Help Each Other In Fight Against COVID-19

Click here to download the Order

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