The Bombay High Court on Tuesday sought to know from the state government whether Covid-19 testing facilities are available in each district of Maharashtra and inquired if mobile clinics can be started across the state.
A division bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice K K Tated was hearing a plea filed by a fisherman seeking proper testing facilities in Ratnagiri, a non-red zone, in the light of thousands of stranded migrant workers returning home in the district from red zones such as Mumbai and Pune.
On May 22, the HC had directed Government Pleader Priyabhushan Kakade to respond to the petition. The state on Tuesday submitted that due measures are being taken to test suspected persons and sought two days’ time to take instructions from the authorities to file a reply.
In his petition, Khalil Ahmad Hasanmiya Wasta, a 58-year-old fisherman, has claimed that if migrants, returning from red zone areas like Mumbai and Pune to Ratnagiri, were not tested due to lack of facilities, it would endanger the lives of local residents in Ratnagiri.
Appearing for Wasta, advocate Rakesh Bhatkar said that since the Covid-19 outbreak, Ratnagiri had initially reported only seven cases, including two deaths. Till May, all infected persons were cured. However, with migrants entering the district, nearly 108 cases have been reported in Ratnagiri, the petition claimed.
“… state authorities issued passes to migrants and 44,531 were allowed to enter Ratnagiri and nearly 30,000 people entered without official passes. As per government data, 29,259 people are under home quarantine. A district having a population of 16.15 lakh has six functioning hospitals, of which two hospitals are reserved for Covid-19 treatment,” the petition said.
It added that swab samples from Ratnagiri are sent to a laboratory in Sangli, which is 237 km away. “This results in a delay in receiving reports… the Miraj Hospital in Sangli, which is also overburdened with samples from nearby districts, is unable to provide reports within the stipulated time.”
Following this, the court said: “Although the grievance in this PIL is confined to non-availability of testing centre for Covid-19 cases in Ratnagiri district, we would like to be enlightened by the state whether testing facilities for detection of cases are available in each district of Maharashtra.”
The court posted the matter for further hearing on May 29.
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