HC pulls up ‘T’ on corona testing, medical gear

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With the swell of new coronavirus cases continuing in Telangana amid growing criticism over low testing, the High Court on Wednesday pulled up the state government directing it to submit a detailed report by July 17.

Hearing a petition on lack of medical gear for the frontline warriors and low testing, the High Court questioned the AG on how many PPE, N95 masks and other equipment were provided to the doctors and medical health workers in the combat against Covid-19. The Telangana High Court directed the State government to inform the court by July 17 as to how many PPE kits, N-95 masks and gloves were so far given to the doctors, nurses and paramedical staff involved in treating Coronavirus-affected people.

The petitioner argued that the KCR government has failed to supply the required number of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) kits and other protective gears to the doctors and other medical staff despite the court directions. The court had also taken note of the low COVID-19 testing rates in the state. The High Court questioned the state government on how many tests were conducted and how many samples were taken during a month’s period between May 23 to June 23.

The court also asked the KCR government to increase corona testing by using Rapid Antigen Test (RAT) in view of rise in Covid-19 cases in the state. Further, the court also directed the government to submit a report on the efforts initiated to trace primary and secondary contacts of the infected people. It also warned that if the state government fails to submit a detailed report by July 17, it will be forced to summon the Chief Secretary, Principal Health Secretary and Public Health Director for not following its earlier orders. The court warned that the CS, Principal Health Secretary, Public Health Director and health commissioner will have to personally appear before it on July 20 if it finds the government’s report unsatisfactory.

This is the second time that the state government had to face the ire of the High Court. Earlier in May, the High Court directed the government to inform the court as to how doctors and medical staff working in government hospitals tested positive for Covid-19 though the government has claimed that it has provided PPE kits, N-95 masks and gloves to them.

In April, Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao had claimed there was adequate stockpile of PPEs, N95 masks, gloves and other medical gear for the frontline warriors even as an increasing number of doctors, nurses, paramedical staff, police personnel and health workers contracted the virus. However, the Telangana High Court hearing a petition in May had pulled up the KCR government over acute shortage of medical equipment. “How could the frontline warriors contract the virus if the government supplied medical equipment to combat the pandemic,” the court wondered.

Telangana has been reporting three-digit growth in corona cases. The state health department had confirmed 945 new cases of COVID-19 in Telangana in the last 24 hours, raising the state’s total number of confirmed coronavirus infections to 16,339. Of the 945 new cases, a whopping 869 positive cases were reported in GHMC limits. After the reopening of the economy, the coronavirus spread has been alarming with higher positive-test cases and increasingly strained hospitals. In the last 24 hours, seven succumbed to Covid-19 taking the total fatalities to 260.

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