The Bombay High Court on Tuesday
asked the Nagpur district collector and city commissioner of police to consider conducting COVID-19 tests on all medical and police personnel discharging duty in two containment zones here - Satranjipura and Mominpura.
Justice R B Deo of the Nagpur bench of the HC said the testing shall be done as a pilot project.
The court made the suggestion while hearing a petition filed by an NGO, Citizen Forum For Equality, seeking tests be conducted on frontline warriors in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic which include doctors, nurses, para-medical staff, pharmacists and police personnel.
The petitioners lawyer, Tushar Mandlekar, argued that these professionals should be considered as high-risk contacts as they are discharging duties in containment zones, hospitals and quarantine institutions and hence they should be tested for the viral infection.
Government pleader S Y Deopujari told the court that every precaution is taken by the Maharashtra government to ensure that medical and police personnel who are working in containment zones and high-risk areas are given necessary equipment for self-protection.
The court noted that presently only symptomatic health care workers and other frontline personnel involved in containment and mitigation of COVID-19 are to be tested.
It would be appropriate if the district collector and the Commissioner of Police, Nagpur, take an appropriate decision on conducting such tests on the medical and police personnel working or discharging duty in the two containment zones of Mominpura and Satranjipura, as a pilot project, the court said.
The court added that the collector and police commissioner shall inform it of their decision on May 22.
"In my considered view, which of course is a prima facie view, presently the medical and police personnel are doing what the bravehearts of the armed forces do day in and day out, ie answering the call of duty at the risk of falling prey to the deadly virus, Justice Deo said.
The society in general and the state in particular owes it to the frontline warriors to take all possible measures to minimise, if not obliterate, the threat of infection, assuming arguendo (for sake of argument) that the advisory or guidelines issued by ICMR do not cover the frontline warriors till the symptoms are manifested, the court said.
Justice Deo said the state would be expected to take additional measures for their protection and go beyond the guidelines in this regard.
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