The Delhi High Court on Monday asked the state government and the Indian Council of Medical Research to reply to two pleas, challenging the health department’s decision to exclude asymptomatic or pre-symptomatic patients from coronavirus testing, PTI reported.

A bench of Chief Justice DN Patel and Justice Prateek Jalan issued notices to the authorities on two separate but similar petitions filed by Padma Shri awardee Dr KK Agarwal and Renu Goswami. The court, which conducted the hearing via videoconferencing, adjourned the case till June 22.

The Delhi government had formulated its Covid-19 testing strategy on June 2, excluding the testing of asymptomatic patients. But Agarwal contended that getting a medical test done is a fundamental right of every citizen. He added that as Covid-19 is a notified disease, it is mandatory for all citizens to get themselves tested, irrespective of whether they have symptoms.

Goswami, on the other hand, challenged the legality and validity of the June 2 order, which she said was “curtailing access to Covid-19 tests despite an alarming increase in the number of coronavirus positive cases” in Delhi. She said the Delhi government has excluded asymptomatic direct contacts of confirmed cases from testing, which is in direct contravention of the guidelines issued by the Indian Council of Medical Research on May 18.

Instead, Goswami said, the Aam Aadmi Party government has issued showcause notices to authorised private laboratories for testing asymptomatic cases, by alleging that they have acted in violation of the ICMR testing guidelines. The state government has also suspended testing by eight laboratories, she said.

Delhi has so far reported 28,936 cases of the coronavirus, including 812 deaths, according to the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.

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