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High Court pulls up Telangana govt for halting Covid tests, warns contempt

HYDERABAD: Hyderabad High Court bench headed by chief justice Raghavendra Singh Chauhan has pulled up the Telangana government for halting Covid-19 tests despite repeated directives to increase the tests amid sharp spike in Coronavirus spread, and warned to initiate contempt proceedings.

The Court regarded the attitude of the Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) government headed by chief minister K Chandrasekhar Rao as violation of the citizens’ fundamental right to live.

This comes days after Telangana government found fault with the private labs and held them responsible for the sudden spike in cases and high positives. Resorting to blame game, the TRS government had also casted scathing remarks on the testing protocols, human resources, infrastructure, and infection control measures at the private labs. The state government also said it suspects ‘contamination of samples’ at the private labs leading to high positivity rate and disparity in numbers.

The Court on Wednesday viewed that halting the tests from June 26 after announcing to conduct 50,000 tests would be construed as contempt of court and proceedings will be initiated accordingly if it is not satisfied with responses of the Telangana government.

The High Court bench consisting chief justice Raghavendra Singh Chauhan and Justice B Vijaysen Reddy said it may summon the chief secretary, health secretary, public health director and health commissioners to the court on July 20 if it is not satisfied with the responses on Covid tests by July 17.

Amid ‘high positives-low testing’ scenario, Telangana had reported India’s highest positive rate at 27.7% and the country’s lowest number of tests at a mere 14,690 from June 10-23. Hyderabad recorded India’s second highest positive rate at 32.1% on June 23, after Mumbai at 33%.

Pulling up the Telangana government for not adhering to its directives passed earlier to conduct random tests, the High Court on Wednesday sought to know the number of testing kits ordered and procured for conducting increased number of tests.

The chief justice headed division bench also sought to know the number of tests conducted from May 23 to June 23 and the details of the primary and secondary contacts. The Court ordered submitting details on the number of personal protection equipment kits supplied to the healthcare workers, warning that it may initiate contempt proceedings for not adhering to the orders passed earlier on supply of PPE kits to frontline warriors.

Perturbed over repeated strictures from the High Court on Covid-19 tests and augmenting the healthcare infrastructure, the TRS government had on June 9 decided moving the Supreme Court claiming that the High Court’s orders cannot be adhered to.

On May 27, the High Court bench headed by chief justice had directed the Telangana government to take up random tests among large population given the threat of skyrocketing of cases with easing of the lockdown.

Responding to the High Court’s directives earlier on procuring test kits to ascertain community spread of the virus, Telangana public health director G Srinivas Rao had submitted that the state was waiting for the Indian Council of Medical Research’s suggestions on where to procure the kits.

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