It can be claimed by no stretch of imagination that the COVID-19 situation has been slowed down much less vanquished, Delhi High Court remarked on Monday in view of the that cases in the national capital. (GNCTD vs. Rakesh Malhotra)
“Looking at aforesaid rising figures, by no stretch of imagination can it be stated that the COVID-19 dragon has been tamed much less slain. It is looming large in the city and needs to be tackled on priority. This court is therefore not satisfied with the number of testing actually being conducted on ground by the Delhi Government.”
The order was passed by a Division Bench of Justices HimaKohli and Subramonium Prasad while dealing with a petition preferred by Advocate Rakesh Malhotra concerning the rate and status of COVID-19 testing in the city.
The Court recorded that while 1250 cases were reported on August 21, the figure shot up to 2024 as on August 30 and the containment zones also increased to 820 from 589.
The Court also observed that although the combined testing capacity of private and public laboratories in Delhi through the RT-PCR mode was 14,000, the actual testing was virtually half of it at 5,000 to 6,000, on an average.
In response, the Delhi Government said that it would "re-strategise its plans of testing", through RAT and RT-PCR.
Expecting the Delhi Governemnt to come up with an Advisory in respect of persons who wish to get themselves tested for COVID-19 infection through RT-PCR, the Court ordered,
“Delhi Govt. shall take measures to re-strategise the testing plan in Delhi so that maximum number of persons, who are asymptomatic, can undergo a test through RT-PCR to prevent the spread of COVID-19 infection, more so, since Unlock-4 has been declared and free movement of people has been permitted in almost all the sectors. While drawing up a fresh guideline, Delhi Govt. shall examine as to whether the necessity of obtaining a prescription from a private doctor for undergoing the RT-PCR should be made mandatory/optional or done away with.
The Court also addressed the question of returning migrant workers to the national capital.
Many of them may be asymptomatic carriers of the virus, and therefore need to be screened and quarantined, as the case may be, the Court said.
In view of UnLock-4, which enabled both Intra-State and Inter-State travel, the Court therefore held that the Delhi government should take immediate measures to ensure that testing facilities are set up within one week at both Inter-State Bus Terminals.
The Court also found the Delhi government's "sero-surveillance" and observed that it was clear from the National Center for Disease Control's finding that a large portion of the population remained asymptomatic and thus posed a hidden danger to the health system.
It was also observed that the total sero prevalence in Delhi grew from 22.8% in the first round to 29.1% in the second, which was a leap of more than 20%.
The Court requested review of the second sero-surveillance to be submitted by the Delhi Government as part of the next Status Examination.