The Delhi High Court on Thursday directed the AAP government to "focus on testing and tracing" to deal with the COVID-19 infection numbers in the national capital, as the "fear factor" regarding the virus was "huge" in the minds of people.
A bench of Justices Hima Kohli and Subramonium Prasad also said the time to declare results should be brought down to within 24 hours from 48 hours or more even now.
The court said the labs can message the results to people on their mobile numbers, which are taken at time of sample collection, and it can be put up on the websites later.
The directions and suggestions by the court came while hearing a PIL by advocate Rakesh Malhotra seeking increase in the COVID-19 testing numbers in the national capital and getting speedy results.
During the hearing, the court said to the Delhi government that "mostly your testing has to be very focused and you have to ensure tracing is equally focused".
It told the government, represented by senior advocate Sandeep Sethi and additional standing counsel Satyakam, that presently "almost everyone was feeling unsafe".
"It is not just because of the infection, but because you don't know who is the carrier (of the virus). Both things are weighing heavily on the minds of the people. Mild infections people might recover from quickly, but the fear factor is huge at this time. That itself is causing a lot of ripples.
"Nobody knows which way they will go. It is not as if every person who is infected will only have mild symptoms. That is the anxiety which needs to be addressed. That is the most important part for which testing, testing and testing, with tracing, tracing and tracing is very important. So please focus on that aspect," the bench said.
The court also said that the government has to ensure that people who are in home isolation stay indoors and do not venture out to infect others.
"How you monitor that is very important," the bench said and asked "How are you monitoring it?"
Satyakam told the court that Delhi government officials were regularly calling up people who are in home isolation and those persons whose numbers were switched off, a team would visit their residence to check on them.
The Delhi government, in its status report, also told the bench about its testing numbers, the steps taken to ensure the 50 person cap for weddings was being adhered to, directions issued to private hospitals to properly display name and number of nodal officers and senior nursing officers and meetings held with market and resident welfare associations on maintaining social distancing and other appropriate behaviour to combat spread of the virus.
After perusing the report, the bench noted that it lacked details of increase in ICU beds, inputs received from market and resident welfare associations, system for online collection of fines imposed for violating COVID-19 behavioural norms and feedback with regard to 1031 helpline effectiveness and directed that information on these aspects be provided in the next status report which is to be filed by December 14.
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