Coronavirus, Supreme Court
Coronavirus, Supreme Court
Litigation News

[Coronavirus] Infection underestimated due to inadequate testing: PIL in SC urges for "exponentially increasing" testing labs in India

"... since the initial outbreak till 13.03.2020, our country having a population of over 130 crore had tested only 5900 persons with an average of 5 tests per million", the petition states.

Meera Emmanuel

A PIL has been moved in the Supreme Court urging that directions be issued to exponentially increase the number of authorised laboratories testing for the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) in India, given the huge population of the country.

Similarly, the plea also calls for increasing the number of quarantine and isolation centres, so that the country can be prepared in the event that the number of affected persons rises.

Moreover, it is urged that temporary hospital beds and other facilities be made available in rural areas. Another prayer made is for directions to facilitate thermal screening at public places as a precautionary measure.

The plea has been filed by journalist, Prashant Tandon and Social Activist, Kunajana Singh through Advocates Ashima Mandla and Fuzail Ahmad Ayyubi.

The petitioners point out that at present 52 laboratories have been authorised to test for the coronavirus, which is submitted to be insufficient for the country’s population, and a likely reason for possibly underestimating the number of persons who have been infected.

“… the reported number of infected persons appears to be less due to inadequate number of testing centres. Furthermore, the reported quarantine and isolation centres as enlisted by the Respondents, too, are insufficient in comparison with the population of our country.”
PIL petitioner

Relying on various media reports, it is highlighted that other countries have been more active in testing their populations, when compared to India. As stated in the petition,

“… since the initial outbreak till 13.03.2020, our country having a population of over 130 crore had tested only 5900 persons with an average of 5 tests per million. However, as of March 9th, 2020 South Korea tested 2,10,144 persons; US tested 8,554 persons UK tested 26,261 persons; France tested 11,895 persons; Hong Kong tested 16,000 persons, Italy tested 60,761 persons to name a few."

PIL petitioner

In view of these concerns, the petitioners have made the following prayers before the Court:

  • Direct the Government to exponentially increase the number of authorised laboratories for testing Coronavirus (COVID-19) in order to ensure widespread accessibility of the testing centres given the huge population of our country;

  • Direct the Government to exponentially increase quarantine/isolation centres in the event of further outbreak of COVID-19;

  • Direct the Government to make available temporary hospital beds and such other facilities for rural patients to be combat ready for any exigency in case of a possible outbreak in rural India;

  • Direct the Government to facilitate thermal screening at public places as a precautionary measure to contain the outbreak of COVID-19.

[Read the Petition]

Prashant Tandon & Anr. v. Union of India & Ors.pdf
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