Focus on containing second wave, says HC

It hopes govt. will begin taking steps

The Madras High Court on Wednesday directed the Tamil Nadu government to concentrate on containing the raging second wave of COVID-19.

Since polling for the Assembly election got over on Tuesday, it hoped the government would begin taking effective steps, aimed at avoiding human suffering, after recovering from the election fatigue by the end of this week.

Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee and Justice Senthilkumar Ramamoorthy said some States had already imposed night curfew, and even a lockdown, albeit in a more restricted form than what was imposed during the first wave last year, appeared imminent. The Bench said the High Court, too, had scaled down physical hearings.

The observations were made at the hearing of a PIL petition filed by advocate B. Ramkumar Adityan, who sought a direction to the Central and State governments to subject even asymptomatic international passengers to seven days of institutional quarantine and conduct COVID-19 tests on them, at their cost, to prevent the spread of a new virus strain.

However, the judges said, no such directions would be issued for the present and the officials concerned would be given a free hand to take decisions without being constrained by court orders. They, nevertheless, put a rider that the court would be forced to pass necessary orders after a fortnight if the government did not take a call within a week or 10 days on the concerns expressed by the litigant.

In his affidavit, the petitioner had insisted that the incoming international passengers be allowed to step out of institutional quarantine only if they tested negative after seven days. He said these passengers must be issued with an advisory to subject themselves to seven more days of home quarantine. On the other hand, those who tested positive must be treated at hospitals and discharged only as per medical advice.

Highlighting the need for the government to act fast, he said the number of cases was on the rise across the country, and therefore it was essential to take precautionary measures.

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