Health

Coronavirus | Supreme Court places plea for more testing labs, isolation centres before government

Workers prepare beds to set up a quarantine facility amid concerns about the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Howrah on the outskirts of Kolkata, India March 19, 2020.

Workers prepare beds to set up a quarantine facility amid concerns about the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Howrah on the outskirts of Kolkata, India March 19, 2020.   | Photo Credit: Reuters

Representation also demands immediate steps to facilitate thermal screening at public places.

The Supreme Court on Monday converted a petition seeking a direction to increase the Coronavirus testing laboratories and quarantine/isolation centres across the country, especially in the rural parts, into a representation to be placed before the government for immediate action.

A Bench led by Chief Justice of India Sharad A. Bobde remarked orally that the government was working hard to contain the virus and agreed with petitioners’ advocate Fuzail Ahmad Ayyubi, appearing for journalist Prashant Tandon and activist Kunjana Singh, that “time is of essence”.

“The petition was filed eight days ago when the court reopened after the Holi break. Merely issuing notice now and waiting for a reply from the government would take time. What we need now is immediate steps. So, though the court initially thought of issuing notice, it later felt it would be better if the petition was directly placed before the government for immediate steps," Mr. Ayyubi explained to The Hindu.

The petition said an “exponential increase in the number of authorised laboratories for testing Coronavirus (COVID-19) was necessary to ensure widespread accessibility of the testing centres given the huge population of our country”.

The plea said the government should make available temporary hospital beds and other facilities for rural patients to be combat-ready for any exigency in case of a possible outbreak in the rural areas.

Also, immediate steps should be taken to facilitate thermal screening at public places as a precautionary measure to contain the outbreak.

“Moreover, facilities should be built from primary health centre level at the block to the district level, so that each district is turned into a self-sustaining unit, including laboratories to test, quarantine centres to inhabit infected individuals and to have temporary hospitals, fully-equipped to respond in the eventuality of an outbreak,” the petition said.

The Constitution, both explicitly and implicitly, provided for a right to safety as well as the right to healthy standard of living along with improved public health, it pointed out.

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Printable version | Jun 1, 2020 5:45:07 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/health/coronavirus-pil-in-supreme-court-seeks-more-testing-labs-isolation-centres-and-rural-reach/article31141810.ece

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