The Bombay High Court has sought the response of the state government after a petition filed by a fisherman sought full-fledged Covid-19 testing facilities in non-red zones, including Ratnagiri, in the light of stranded migrant workers returning home from red zones such as Mumbai and Pune.
A division bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice SS Shinde, which heard the matter on May 22 via videoconferencing, directed the government counsel Priyabhushan Kakade to respond to the petition in the next hearing and posted the matter for May 26.
In his petition, Khalil Ahmad Hasanmiya Wasta, a 58-year-old fisherman, claimed that if migrants returning from red zone areas like Mumbai and Pune to Ratnagiri district were not tested properly due to lack of facilities, it would endanger lives of local residents.
Appearing for the fisherman, advocate Rakesh Bhatkar said since the Covid-19 outbreak, Ratnagiri reported only seven cases, including two deaths. Till May, all positive cases were cured. However, with migrants entering the district, nearly 108 Covid-19 positive cases have been found in Ratnagiri, the petition claimed.
However, with authorities granting permission for intra-state travel for stranded students, pilgrims as well migrant workers, the facilities with local administrations are insufficient, the petitioner claimed.
“Thereafter, state authorities issued passes to migrants and 44,531 applications were allowed to enter Ratnagiri district and nearly 30, 000 persons entered without official passes. As per government data, 29,259 persons are under home quarantine. A district having a population of 16.15 lakh has six functioning hospitals, out of which two hospitals are reserved for Covid-19 treatment,” the petition said.
The petition further stated that the swab samples from Ratnagiri were sent to a laboratory in Sangli district, which is nearly 237 km away. “This results in a delay in receiving reports and the Miraj Hospital in Sangli, which is also overburdened with samples from nearby districts, is unable to give the reports within stipulated time,” the petition said.
“All the patients seem to have Mumbai travel history. Therefore, it is required to test them at earliest to avoid community spread,” it further said.
The petitioner asked the Court to direct the authorities to establish Covid-19 testing facilities in Ratnagiri and other non-red zone districts as per ICMR guidelines. It also asked the court to direct state authorities not to impose restriction on number of swab samples to be sent for coronavirus testing pending hearing of the matter.
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