Petitioner wants court to instruct the government to undertake extensive tests; plea to be heard again on July 20
With inadequate human resources to trace the primary contacts of coronavirus infected persons, the pandemic is spreading like wildfire in the State.
Stating this, a PIL petitioner filed an interim application in Telangana High Court seeking a direction to State government to step up contact tracing to check further spread of COVID-19. The petitioner, Surya Balu Mahendra, an advocate, filed a PIL plea stating that the government is not tracing the asymptomatic primary contacts and symptomatic secondary contacts of coronavirus infected persons.
While hearing of the plea by a bench headed by Chief Justice Raghvendra Singh Chauhan was in progress, the petitioner filed an interim application stating that failure of the government to trace primary and secondary contacts of COVID-19 affected persons amounts to violation of ICMR guidelines. He also wanted the High Court to instruct the government to undertake extensive COVID-19 tests. Citing media reports, the petitioner said the State witnessed phenomenal rise in coronavirus positive cases in the past two weeks. Close to 80% of them are from GHMC limits. The lawyer contended that tracing the contacts of infected persons is crucial in curbing further incidence of the virus. But inadequate number of health workers and non-availability of municipal staff to trace the contacts of COVID-19 infected persons is resulting in rapid proliferation of the virus, he said.
According to the petitioner, the ICMR had said earlier that the tracing of contacts of COVID-19 patients in the country faltered long ago. Statistics indicate that COVID-19 confirmation tests were conducted for over 10 lakh citizens in the country till April 30. The mode of transmission of the virus among 57% of these people is not yet known.
Of them, 40,184 persons tested positive for the virus. Interestingly, the ICMR said 44% of them were not sure how they contracted the virus. The petitioner maintained that the ICMR had revealed that 80% of the people on whom tests were conducted did not know the source of transmission.
In Telangana, only 68% of persons on whom COVID-19 confirmation tests were conducted knew how the transmission occurred. The others are apparently in dark as to how they contracted the virus. Relying on media reports, the petitioner said that Telagana government stopped tracing contacts of COVID-19 patients due to shortage of municipal staff.
‘Why can not the State government avail services of volunteers or adopt new technologies to track down all contacts of coronavirus affected persons?’, the petitioner said. Roping in corporators, counsellors and ward members of municipal areas concerned and equipping them with the technology of tracing contacts was one option to check further spread of COVID-19, the petitioner said. The PIL plea would be heard again on July 20.
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