Hyderabad: The High Court on Friday asked the state government to be as aggressive as possible in combating the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) that is causing havoc in China, and said that it should not allow the virus to have opportunity for local transmission.
A division bench comprising Chief Justice Raghavendra Singh Chauhan and Justice A. Abhishek Reddy directed Chief Secretary Somesh Kumar to file a detailed report on the steps taken by the government to curtail the further spread of swine flu, dengue fever, malaria and the novel coronavirus, by February 26.
The bench was adjudicating on two public interest litigations (PILs) relating to the inaction of the authorities in controlling the emerging epidemic diseases like dengue, swine flu, malaria and viral fevers, which were widespread during the monsoon. Justice Chauhan asked Advocate-General B.S. Prasad how well the state government was prepared to tackle the threat from the coronavirus.
He pointed out that three persons had tested positive for the new virus in India,
“This menace has come from China and is spreading very fast. The government should take firm steps to stop it from further spreading. Even though the coronavirus issue is not the subject of the PILs, this court wants to know from the state what its preparedness is to tackle this new virus,” Justice Chauhan said.
The Chief Justice said, “Any person returning from southeast Asia or from China is being subjected to strict screening at the airport and is directed to get clearance from the doctors. What about the large number of people who have already come from there and China and are travelling in Telangana by buses and trains? How are these people subjected to foolproof screening.”
Advocate General B.S. Prasad informed the bench that there was no case of dengue fever in the state since the last one month and 44 swine flu cases had been recorded.
Explaining about the handling of people coming in from coronavirus-affected zones, Mr Prasad said that in most government hospitals isolation wards had been set up to screen the travellers. All medical officers had been directed to adhere to the instructions given to them to tackle cases, he said.
Mr Kovvuturi Pavan Kumar, counsel representing petitioner Dr Karuna, alleged that Chief Secretary Somesh Kumar after taking office had not constituted swine flu technical committees. Counsel said reports had not been filed before the court.
The counsel urged the court to direct the state government to take necessary steps to tackle swine flu.