The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) Friday told the Delhi High Court that a dummy phone number can be used for COVID-19 testing of mentally ill homeless persons alongside the address of the lab or hospital which is conducting the test.
The country's top medical research body came out with the solution to address the issue of mentally ill homeless persons not being tested for COVID-19 for the lack of a government issued identity card, an address proof or a mobile number as required under the testing guidelines issued by the ICMR.
Taking note of the solution proposed by the research body, a bench of Chief Justice D N Patel and Justice Prateek Jalan disposed of a PIL moved by advocate Gaurav Kumar Bansal, seeking guidelines for COVID-19 testing of mentally ill homeless persons in Delhi. It appears sufficient care has been taken by the authorities," said the bench.
It also asked authorities to consider Bansal's suggestion of using the identity documents of the police officer for mentally homeless persons in his area. The court had on July 24 asked the ICMR to issue a clarification that mobile number, government issued identity card, photographs or even a residential proof ought not be insisted upon for COVID-19 testing of mentally ill homeless persons.
In its affidavit, the research body has said that states can issue their own guidelines for setting up camps to test such people and to ensure that the ''test, track, treat'' strategy is followed. According to an ICMR advisory, dated June 19, a government issued identity proof and a valid phone number were necessary for conducting the COVID-19 test, for the purpose of tracing and tracking.
Bansal had claimed in his petition that the Delhi government did not taken seriously the lack of testing guidelines for mentally ill homeless persons. He had said the high court had on June 9 directed it to address the grievances raised by him in another PIL on the matter.
He had also said that on June 13 he had sent a representation to the Chief Secretary of Delhi government for providing treatment to mentally ill homeless persons in the national capital who have no residence proof. However, nothing was done by the Delhi government, he had told the court.