The judges were particularly upset at the measures taken to tackle the pandemic in Rangareddy, Warangal and Karimnagar districts. “Your testing is pathetic in these three districts. Out of the nine lakh Covid-19 tests conducted so far, only one lakh of them are RT-PCR tests. The rest are rapid antigen tests (RATs). You have to increase the RT-PCR tests to tackle the pandemic effectively,” a bench of Chief Justice Hima Kohli and Justice B Vijaysen Reddy said.
The judges sought answers within 48 hours from the government as to why it was doing more number of rapid antigen tests but reduced the RT-PCR tests to a mere 10% of total tests despite knowing fully well that RT-PCR testing had helped the state in containing the spread of Covid-19. “Why are you trying to bluff everyone by showing a high number of tests when 90% are useless antigen tests, while only 10% are RT-PCR,” the CJ said.
The case will come up for hearing on Thursday.Resuming the hearing in cases related to Covid-19 treatment and containment, the judges said they were not convinced with the contents of a report filed by the public health director.
Addressing advocate general BS Prasad, the judges said the government and the official machinery should think out of the box for taking the vaccine to the people instead of asking them to come to hospitals.
“People have various fears and you have to clear them by going to them. Take the vaccine to the street points and ensure they are given 24X7. Send across a message that ample vaccine is available and ensure that all people get the vaccine to make our state safer,” the bench said.
The judges raised concerns on crowding at function halls, theatres, bars, restaurants, pubs, processions, marriages, funerals, etc., and sought to know from the authorities on the steps being taken to reduce congregation of people at these places. “Occupancy in theatres, pubs and restaurants has to be reduced. Restore the isolation and quarantine centres and ensure vaccination for people at old age homes,” the bench said.
The judges wanted information on the number of beds with oxygen and ventilators in the state — both private and government hospitals. “All the 54 Covid-19 designated government hospitals must remain as designated hospitals,” the bench said in response to a suggestion from Prabhakar Chikkudu, counsel for one of the petitioners.
The judges further said, “Also tell us about the fines being collected from violators of social distancing norms and for not wearing masks district-wise.”
They also wanted the government to inform the court on the steps taken to contain the virus at construction sites, railway stations, airports and roads and junctions on the state borders.