Centre told to spell out steps to prevent spread

The Madras High Court has directed the Centre to examine whether it is necessary to prescribe seven days of institutional quarantine to asymptomatic passengers arriving from all foreign countries and then conduct COVID-19 tests on them, at their personal cost, to prevent the spread of the new strain of the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee and Justice Senthilkumar Ramamoorthy said the court was not an expert body to take a call on such issues.

Therefore, it directed the Centre to obtain expert advice and inform the court of the developments since a public interest litigation petition had been filed, raising certain genuine concerns.

The judges also directed Additional Solicitor General R. Sankaranarayanan to file a report by January 18 on the steps taken by the Centre, so far, to keep the new virus strain at bay.

The direction was issued after the ASGI informed the court about India having banned all flights from the U.K., after the new strain was discovered there.

However, counsel representing the PIL petitioner, B. Ramkumar Adityan, told the court that it was not sufficient to just ban flights from the U.K.

The petitioner’s counsel insisted that all international passengers arriving from other countries must be subjected to a mandatory institutional quarantine for seven days and then be made to undertake COVID-19 tests.

Those who test negative after seven days must be allowed to go with an advisory for seven more days of home quarantine and those who test positive must be treated in hospitals, he insisted. He also brought to the notice of the court that already several cases of the new strain had been reported across the country.

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