Toddler moves HC against Delhi govt order to ease restrictions, stop testing asymptomatic COVID cases

New Delhi: A toddler approached the Delhi High Court on Monday highlighting the considerable risk faced by him and many other minors due to the Delhi government’s decision to ease restrictions and discontinue testing of asymptomatic cases of COVID-19 in the national capital.
The petition filed by the two-year-old boy, through his father, said the situation has been aggravated because of discontinuation of testing of asymptomatic cases and shortage of requisite healthcare infrastructure such as hospital beds and ventilators.
The child said he resides in a joint family comprising working members, who would be resuming work/regular office pursuant to the “Unlockdown’ as announced by the Delhi government with effect from Monday, and like several other minors and residents of Delhi, he is at a considerable risk of contacting COVID-19 through these members due to lifting of restriction on movements.
The plea, listed for hearing on Tuesday before a bench headed by Chief Justice D N Patel, has sought quashing of Delhi government’s June 2 order of the Delhi government to the extent that it restricts the testing of asymptomatic Covid-19 patients and sought direction to accredited laboratories to resume testing including that of asymptomatic patients in view of the sudden spike in the number of positive cases.
The petition, filed through advocates Arjun Syal, Manjira Dasgupta and Vidisha Kumar, said disallowing testing of asymptomatic cases is complete deviation of the testing criteria/guidelines issued by Indian Council of Medical Research from time to time.
The plea highlighted the hardships and challenges faced by the residents of Delhi in getting admitted in hospitals despite having the patient testing positive for COVID-19 or showing symptoms and being a high-risk category patient, facing difficulty in breathing and in urgent need of getting medical assistance.
The petition has arrayed Centre, Delhi government and ICMR as parties.
The petition alleged that the Delhi government’s order has been passed with a “mala fide motive” to ‘reduce’ the number of daily positive patients and a majority of these cases are asymptomatic.
‘The decision of the government to lift the restriction on movement and observe ‘Unlockdown’ on one hand and on the other hand to discontinue the testing of asymptomatic patients is mutually contradictory.
‘Asymptomatic patients are highly infectious and can extensively contaminate the environment in a very short time and moreover essentially the carriers and primarily responsible for spread of the pandemic,’ it said.
‘In such a scenario, where the government is intending ‘Unlockdown’ and moreover the restriction on movement has sought to be relaxed, and with the ever increasing rate COVID-19 cases in New Delhi, disallowing asymptomatic testing is not only disastrous but is likely to lead to a wider spread of the pandemic. This would eventually prove to be a bigger burden on the medical infrastructure of the State,’ the plea said.