Thursday, February 9, 2023

Uttarakhand HC Directs State Govt To Perform Rapid Antibody Tests For Returnees: COVID-19

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The Uttarakhand High Court on Wednesday has directed the State Authorities to establish & make functional all the quarantine centre, and shall quarantine all returnees coming from red zones for one week, if after, one week those who have necessary symptoms, as per the guidelines of ICMR shall be tested for RT-PCR. 

The court said that “Although rapid antibody test has not been approved by ICMR for diagnostic purposes, but since the result of this test is available in much less time, such tests can be used for surveillance purposes alone. At Least it would be a better surveillance than the surveillance by thermal screening!”.

The Division bench of Justice Ravindra Maithani and Justice Sudhanshu Dhulia heard the writ petitions, whereby the learned Advocate General Mr. S.N. Babulkar assisted by Mr. Paresh Tripathi, learned Chief Standing Counsel, Mr. Rakesh Thapliyal, learned Assistant Solicitor General of India, Secretary, Health, Government of Uttarakhand and the Director General, Medical Health were connected with the bench via video-conferencing.

The court said that presently the efforts which are being made by the State Authorities, particularly at the borders of Uttarakhand, are not sufficient to check the return of persons, who are coming more rapidly in ever increasing numbers as many of them may be infected with the virus, admittedly COVID-19 positive cases have been detected in far flung places like “Betal Ghat” in Nainital, Uttarkashi, Tehri, Almora and many other interior hill districts and all this has happened after opening up after the lockdown.

“We are not against the arrival of the people. They have every right to come. Our only concern is that in these difficult times there must be a proper screening at the borders,” said by the bench.

The court further observed that the present tests which are being done on the borders, are only limited to thermal screening and general clinical examination, whereas more than two lakh persons are likely to come to Uttarakhand since the opening of the state borders and more than ninety thousand persons have already reached Uttarakhand. The remaining are coming on daily basis and roughly 6000 – 7000 persons are entering Uttarakhand from various border points each day.

Learned Assistant Solicitor General of India, who was representing ICMR has given a statement before the Court that “ICMR has no objection if rapid testing is done only for surveillance purposes, but this decision has to be taken by the State Authorities”.

The Secretary, Health, Government of India has admitted that this test can be done on an experiment basis at border points and subject to its success or failure will be implemented further or discontinued.

Thereafter, the court was informed that ICMR has approved a testing kit, called “Elisa” Kit, under Integrated Disease Surveillance Programme, which can be made available to the State Government and such tests have already been performed in District Pauri Garhwal of Uttarakhand. 

Learned Assistant Solicitor General of India has assured the High Court that as and when the State Government makes a requisition of these kits, the same will be supplied to them, depending upon their requirement, without any further delay.

Read the order here;


-India Legal Bureau

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