The court ordered that 800 patients, doctors, nurses, wardens and cooks from the Institute of Mental Health in Chennai be tested for the coronavirus.

A file photo of people leaving the Institute of Mental Health in KilpaukImage for representation
news Coronavirus Thursday, July 16, 2020 - 16:33

The Madras High Court on Thursday directed the Tamil Nadu government to test all patients, workers and doctors at the Institute of Medical Health (IMH) in Kilpauk for the novel coronavirus. 

The court was hearing a petition filed by the State Secretary of Tamilnadu Association for Rights of All Types of Differently Abled and Caregivers (TARATDAC) Namburajan, who pointed out that 26 people had tested positive at the IMH so far. 

When the case came up for hearing before a Bench comprising Justice MM Sundreesh and Justice R Hemalatha, the government’s counsel said that they had been testing people in IMH without any discrimination.

However, the counsel appearing for the petitioner said that the patients of IMH need special attention and argued that all those living on the premises must be tested

In the petition, Namburajan said that three patients from ward number 9 of IMH tested positive for the coronavirus. Following this, all those living in the ward were screened for COVID-19 and 26 persons tested positive in total, including doctors. 

Hence the petition said, “There are about 20 wards and about 800 people with mental health issues living in the hospital. It is necessary to test all the inmates as they are the most vulnerable. The standard recommendation to prevent spread of infection like hand washing, covering mouth and nose while coughing and sneezing and avoiding close contact with anyone showing symptoms of respiratory illness; may be difficult to enforce among the inmates of the institution.”

Namburajan also said, the patients who test positive for coronavirus and are found symptomatic should be treated at the Rajiv Gandhi Government General Hospital (RGGGH) and Kings Institute, Guindy. Asymptomatic patients should be treated at the isolation wards of IMH, Kilpauk, he added.

Accepting the argument put forward by the petitioner, the Bench said that those living in the hospital should be given the same respect that is granted to all citizens of India and ordered that the 800 patients, doctors, nurses, wardens and cooks be tested for the coronavirus.

The test should be completed within a week and based on the results, the decision of providing treatment to the patients at various hospitals would be taken, the bench said.

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