The Maharashtra government on Tuesday informed the Bombay High Court that non-availability of Covid-19 testing facilities in all districts is not affecting the quality of tests with adequate sample collection centres available in every locality. It also said that the outbreak is largely concentrated in urban and semi-urban areas where testing facilities are scaled up as per the requirements and availability of resources.
In an affidavit filed in court, the government also stated, “There are serious constraints on the availability of skilled technicians and sophisticated equipment.” The reply was submitted before a division bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice A A Sayed, which is hearing through videoconference a plea filed by a fisherman seeking proper testing facilities in Ratnagiri, a non-red zone, and other districts in the light of thousands of stranded migrant workers returning to the district from red zones, such as Mumbai and Pune.
In his petition, filed through advocate Rakesh Bhatkar, 58-year-old Khalil Ahmad Hasanmiya Wasta claimed that if migrant workers, returning from red zones to Ratnagiri, were not tested due to lack of facilities, it would endanger the lives of local residents there.
Director of Health Services Dr Sadhana Tayade submitted an affidavit in reply on Tuesday, after the HC on May 29 had expressed displeasure over the state’s stand that it was not possible to have full-fledged Covid-19 facilities in all the districts and that it had fulfilled the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) guidelines prescribing testing lab within 250 km.
Moreover, the state government had informed the court that a testing facility had been established at the Civil Hospital at Ratnagiri as per a government resolution and same would be functional within eight days.
The response filed by the health authority stated, “The samples are strictly collected in view of the ICMR testing strategy and guidelines are complied with during collection of samples and also for packaging and transportation. Presently, the average testing time is 48-72 hours from the collection of samples due to large number of infections in several areas. The non-availability of testing facilities in each district is not affecting the quality of the tests. Such non availability also does not affect the interest of citizens as long as adequate number of sample collection centres are set up at reasonable distance in every locality.”
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