The Delhi High Court Wednesday sought the Centre and the city government's stand on a plea by a mother wanting to know the outcome of the genome sequencing test of her Covid positive son as he was not being discharged by a private hospital for the lack of clarity on the virus variant. The 18-year-old arrived at the Delhi international airport from one of the ‘at-risk ‘countries and tested positive for COVID-19. He has been in isolation at a private hospital since the morning of December 25.
Justice Jyoti Singh stated that while the protocols imposed by the authorities ought to be followed, the petitioner was entitled to know the genome test result which was not a "national secret". "They (governments) have to tell who has done the genome sequencing and when the report is going to come. The court will ensure that it comes to you (mother) and for that, we have to give them a day's time… It's your son and his genome sequencing. Why shouldn't you know it? I don't understand if there is any national secret in that,” the judge told the petitioner.
The court issued notice and granted time to the counsel for the two governments to seek instructions. The counsel for the Centre said the Delhi government was “managing the whole scenario” and pointed out that as per the petition, genome testing was stated to be done by the state government's LNJP hospital. The court was further informed that as per the latest guidelines, samples for genome testing have to be mandatorily sent in case of positive cases at the international airport.
The Delhi government counsel stated that it was “not clear from the petition” as to who carried out the genome test. “Would you both consider resolving this issue and coming back and telling the court who has taken the swab and conducted the genomic testing. I'm not meddling with your guidelines and protocol. I'm not interfering in anything else. My only concern as a court … (is) when children are coming from foreign countries, they are anxious and their parents are anxious,” the court responded.
The court clarified that it expected the governments to inform “What has happened to the genomic testing; who is doing it; where is the report and when will the report come”. “There has been a boy in the hospital for the past couple of days. You have to tell the court what happens to your genomic testing. You are right, these are the guidelines. Protocols have to be followed. These are good things but at the end of the day, she wants to know where my genomic testing report is because her child is being kept in the hospital to await the outcome of the report. She is entitled to say that and entitled to know that,” the court said.
“I don't want to hear if it is this government or the other,” said the judge, listing the case for further hearing on December 31. The court also asked the government to inform it about the status of the petitioner's son's COVID-19 re-test, if any. The Counsel for the petitioner informed the court that upon the arrival at the Delhi international airport from one of the at-risk countries, the son tested positive for the virus and then a second swab was collected by the authorities for genome sequencing but no “lab reference number” was provided to enable the patients to track the report.
The petitioner, who was present in person, claimed that her son was in isolation at a private hospital since the morning of December 25 and was not being discharged to await the result of the genome sequencing test. She claimed that in spite of her son being a mild case of COVID-19, the private hospital was not re-testing him.
-With PTI Inputs