The Delhi High Court Monday asked the Delhi government and the ICMR to reply to two pleas challenging the Health department’s decision to exclude “asymptomatic or pre-symptomatic patients” from COVID 19 testing.
A bench of Chief Justice D N Patel and Justice Prateek Jalan issued notices to the authorities on two separate but similar petitions filed by doctor KK Aggarwal, Padma Shri Awardee and former President of Indian Medical Association (IMA), and Renu Goswami.
The court, which conducted the hearing through video conferencing, listed both the matters for further hearing on June 22. Aggarwal, who is also the president of NGO, ‘Heart Care Foundation of India’, challenged the Delhi government’s June 2 decision formulating the strategy of COVID-19 testing as per which “asymptomatic patients or pre-symptomatic patients” are excluded from testing.
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He has sought quashing of the Health Department’s order as getting a medical test done is a fundamental right of every citizen. He also said that as COVID-19 is a notifiable disease it is mandatory for all citizens to get themselves tested for the virus, irrespective of whether the patient is symptomatic or asymptomatic or pre-symptomatic patient.
He said the citizens should be allowed to get themselves tested so as to be assured whether they are suffering from this deadly disease or not and accordingly take immediate and prompt medical treatment.
In the second petition, Goswami too has challenged the legality and validity of the June 2 office order, curtailing access to COVID-19 tests despite an alarming increase in the number of coronavirus positive cases within the national capital.
She said the Delhi government has excluded asymptomatic direct contacts of confirmed cases from COVID-19 testing (except high risk cases), which is in direct contravention of Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR) testing guidelines issued on May 18 mandating testing of “asymptomatic direct and high-risk contacts of a confirmed case”.
The plea said the AAP government has also issued show cause notices to authorised private laboratories for testing asymptomatic cases by alleging that they have purportedly acted in violation of the ICMR testing guidelines as well as suspended testing by eight labs.
“The impugned actions restricting testing to symptomatic and high risk cases and reduced testing capacity of the state are in violation of the Article 21 of the Constitution in as much as denying the right of a citizen to get tested for an infection is a gross violation of Right to Life and the attendant right to health guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution,” it said and sought setting aside the government’s order.