'COVID-19 tests on dead unscientific': Telangana health minister responds to HC order

The High Court had earlier ordered the state government to conduct coronavirus tests on all deceased before they were released from hospitals.
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Days after the Telangana High Court ordered that COVID-19 tests be done on all deceased in hospitals, Health Minister Etela Rajender on Tuesday said it is 'unscientific' and 'incomprehensible' and the state had no intention of doing so.

The court had, while setting aside a government directive not to collect samples from dead bodies for coronavirus tests, ordered the state government to conduct the tests on all the deceased before they were released from hospitals.

"Conducting tests (for COVID-19) on dead people is unscientific. It is incomprehensible.Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) guidelines did not specify that tests should be conducted on the bodies. Every day about 1,000 people die in this state. Every day about 30,000 people die in this country. They (those filing PILs in courts) should say which ICMR or WHO guidelines specify that tests should be conducted on dead bodies. It is not possible and we have no such intention," Rajender told reporters.

He said the ICMR gave its nod after the state government's repeated requests to treat asymptomatic patients at home, even as patients with moderate to severe symptoms are being treated in hospitals under medical supervision.

The court had said the direction was being given keeping in mind the distinct possibility that asymptomatic patients who may have died may be carriers of coronavirus.

In such cases, if the body is found to be infected, there is a possibility that those handling it during cremation or burial may be equally exposed to the danger of contracting coronavirus.

"Therefore, this court directs that dead bodies being released by the hospital, by way of abundant caution, will have to be tested for the presence of the coronavirus. The direction being issued for testing of the dead bodies for the presence of coronavirus is, in fact, in tune with the first guidelines issued by the ICMR, quoted above," the court said.

A press release from Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao's office on Monday night quoted officials as suggesting that the government go in for an appeal in the Supreme Court, challenging the High Court's order.

"It is difficult to implement the High Court order that tests should be conducted on the dead for whatever reasons they have died. Every day someone will die in some remote part of the state. It is not possible to conduct tests on them," the officials informed KCR at a review meeting on Monday.

Observing that the High Court's directions in this connection were "impossible" to implement, they said the state government needs to move the Supreme Court in this regard.


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