New Delhi: A petition has been filed in the Supreme Court seeking a direction to the Centre to conduct mass testing on priority basis for identifying and treating COVID-19 infected persons, especially in the hotspot areas across the country, to contain the spread of coronavirus pandemic.
It claimed that testing rate in India for COVID-19 is amongst the lowest in the world and the “shocking spike in the number of coronavirus infected cases within a matter of days, shows that it may only be the tip of the iceberg and we are oblivious to the real gravity of the situation”.
Mass testing is needed to trace, identify, isolate and treat the infected people so as to break the chain of virus transmission, it said.
The petition, filed by three lawyers and a law student based at Allahabad, said this should start on a priority basis, desirably from the states and cities which are most severely affected by coronavirus to contain its “exponential spread in every nook and corner of the country otherwise combating COVID-19 would become like fighting a fire blindfolded”.
As of April 7, it said, India was conducting roughly 82 tests per one million even as the World Health Organization (WHO) has underlined the need and importance of conducting tests in combating coronavirus.
“Accordingly, universal house-to-house testing is indispensable for the purpose of tracing the infected COVID-19 carriers/patients and isolating them for good, otherwise the whole exercise of our fight against COVID-19 pandemic would prove to be futile and the country and public at large would suffer irreparable consequences and untold misery,” it said.
The plea has also sought directions to the Centre and states to transfer the funds, collected and contained in the Prime Minister National Relief Fund (PMNRF), PM-Cares fund and Chief Minister relief funds, to the National Disaster Response Fund (NDRF) and the State Disaster Response Fund (SDRF), which are established under the provisions of the Disaster Management Act, 2005.
It said these funds may be used for combating coronavirus and procurement of materials including testing kits, ventilators, personal protective equipments (PPEs), creation and maintenance of quarantine centres.