Unending flood of people for COVID-19 tests, threat to shut labs on delayed report not advisable: HC

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New Delhi, Apr 19 (PTI) The Delhi High Court Monday said there is an 'unending flood' of people outside diagnostic laboratories for getting COVID-19 tests and Delhi government's threat to shut down their premises in case reports are delivered later than 24 hours is not advisable at this time of the pandemic.

A bench of Justices Vipin Sanghi and Rekha Palli said if such a direction is issued by the AAP government, it shall not be implemented.

“Is such a threat advisable at this point of time. There is an unending flood of people outside labs. Labs are saying they test 700 people daily. To test them and upload reports, its driving everyone crazy. To put such a condition of giving report in 24 hours or else the lab will be shut down is unreasonable,” the bench said.

The high court, on its own, revived a disposed of petition related to COVID-19 testings and infrastructure, noting that the virus has raised its “ugly head” once again and the pandemic is raging with much greater intensity and 'it is evident that the healthcare infrastructure is at the stage of imminent collapse'.

The high court’s order came hours after the Delhi government issued an order imposing curfew for six days starting from 10 PM tonight till 5 PM on April 26.

The high court was informed by petitioner-advocate Rakesh Malhotra that a large number of laboratories in Delhi have stopped home collection of samples and are also not taking fresh samples in view of the AAP government’s direction to the labs to generate the reports within 24 hours or face action.

He said the chief minister had issued this direction in a press conference.

The bench said it cannot appreciate this stand of the government.

'We, therefore direct that if such a direction is issued, it shall not be implemented,' it added.

“Because of this direction (of the government), labs are not willing to collect samples if they are unable to deliver reports in 24 hours. If any such action is taken by the government, it would only be counter-productive. We have to be clear that labs are also hard pressed because of the large numbers they are having today. It would not serve the interest of any laboratory to negligently or deliberately delay the test result,” the bench said.

It, however, asked the labs to work efficiently and diligently and generate reports as soon as possible.

Senior advocate Rahul Mehra, representing the Delhi government, said nothing has been placed on record with regard to the Delhi Chief Minister’s press conference where such direction was purportedly issued.

He said in the current situation the government cannot afford to ban any laboratory and it will not do anything which will create obstacles in the work.

Advocate Satyakam, who was also representing the Delhi government, apprised the court of an earlier order passed by it in the matter last year in which it had directed the State to ensure that the RT-PCR test samples be processed and delivered in 24 to 48 hours.

The bench said it expects the labs to generate and deliver the reports within the this period. PTI SKV SA