Why only 4,000 tests conducted if 50,000 are under observation? HC asks govt

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Srinagar: The Jammu and Kashmir High Court has directed Chief Secretary and Secretary Health and Medical Education to “urgently examine” the issue of “insufficient sampling” amid submissions that only around 4000 people have been tested for COVID-19 even as the government states that over 50000 people have been put under observation in J-K.

“Let this issue be urgently examined by the Chief Secretary, UT of J-K as well as Secretary, Health and Medical Education,” said a division bench of Justice Gita Mittal and Justice Rajnesh Oswal while hearing clubbed Public Interest Litigations through video conferencing.

The submissions were made by advocate Ateeb Kanth who also pointed that the report filed by the Health Department shows that only 157 technicians are available and it stands a reason for “insufficient sampling”.

As a result, he said, despite the Government stand that 50,000 (now around 60000) people have travelled into J-K, only 4,000 people have been tested for Covid-19.

The court also sought comments from “stakeholders” including Indian Medical Association through its National President (New Delhi), Junior Resident Doctors through its Secretary, Government Medical College Jammu and Doctors Association of Kashmir through its President Dr. Nisar-ul-Hassan (Medicine Department SMHS Hospital) on a proposed legislation— Healthcare Service Personnel and Clinical Establishments (Prohibition of Violence and Damage to Property) Bill 2019. The court, as per Global News Service, also directed that the view taken by Ministry of Home Affairs be also placed before it.

They have been asked to send their views and comments via email to the Registrar Judicial(s).

Earlier, amicus curie Monika Kohli filed the report stating that the stand taken by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, government of India in these proceedings was most unfortunate and insensitive. She pointed that despite the available framework and the serious pandemic issues which are being addressed by healthcare professional, these personnel are being subjected to extreme violence in a spate of incidents all over the country. She also pointed out that valuable public property (as ambulances, police vehicles) involved in COVID-19 issues, are being stoned and damaged for which there is no compensation.

The amicus curie said that she come across reports from Jammu and Kashmir wherein doctors in Budgam were held hostage by the public and also of instances where doctors have been asked to vacate the hotel accommodation which they were occupying as they were engaged in undertaking Covid-19 containment and treatment measures. She submits that the issue of safety, care, health and violence against these healthcare professionals needs to be addressed on priority in J-K as well as Ladakh.

Regarding Darbar Move, the court was informed that there was expenditure of Rs 1636.04 lakhs in addition to Rs.1213.44 lakhs on Darbar Move.

“We shall consider the impact of this order on the next date of hearing after full information has been placed before us,” the court added.

In another direction, the court directed V. K. Singh, Director General of Police (Prisons) J&K to submit within ten days a report with regard to prisoners in Jammu and Kashmir who are lodged in the J-K and in other parts of India. (GNS)

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