HYDERABAD : In the wake of news reports of the discovery of a new novel Coronavirus variant in the UK, instances of such cases in various parts of India and the possibility of a second wave of COVID-19, the Telangana High Court on Thursday directed the State government to be extremely vigilant in tackling the highly contagious virus.
Expressing dissatisfaction with the State’s failure to impose restrictions on New Year celebrations and a night curfew, the court directed the government to consider banning public gatherings and clamping Section 144 of the CrPC to prevent a spike in cases. It also told the State to strengthen surveillance.
Stay vigilant or COVID will spread like fire: Telangana HC tells state government
The HC directed the TS government to strengthen medical infrastructure too. It also directed to consider the usage of non-biometric machines at fair price shops to prevent the spread of the virus. Though the court made the suggestion in the afternoon, the government did not give any specific instruction of enforcing Section 144 or banning gatherings, except for the general direction that COVID-19 protocol should be followed by revellers on roads and in bars.
However, police have been conducting drunken driving checks and have closed all flyovers to moderate the revelry. "We are following the HC orders," a police official said. The HC, issuing the direction to the State, said: "Many States have already taken concrete steps by imposing a night curfew, strengthening surveillance and medical infrastructure facilities. Maharashtra and Rajasthan have imposed night curfew, while the Delhi government has issued orders banning 2021 New Year celebrations. What has prompted the Telangana government in permitting New year celebrations? If the government is not vigilant, the new virus will spread like a a forest fire."
It said Telangana is a landlocked State, and if the virus spreads, it will enter the neighbouring States. "The new variant is more dangerous and contagious than the earlier one. Mere closure of Tank Bund, Necklace Road and other stretches is not enough. Let us be as cautious as possible as the battle against the virus is not over. Due to constant court directions and efforts of government, the number of positive cases have decreased from about 3,000 to 500. We hope that normalcy will be restored," a division bench, comprising CJ Raghvendra Singh Chauhan and Justice B Vijaysen Reddy, said.
Terming the discovery of the new variant in the UK as disturbing, it observed that though the virus strain is highly contagious, it has not been proved yet if it is fatal. The bench passed these directions in a batch of PILs.
Expressing concern and apathy over people's callous and negligent attitude by providing wrong addresses to the airport officials, the bench directed the government to consider issuing a GO warning them of punishment under Section 269 of the IPC and prosecution. According to newspaper reports, about 279 persons, who had returned from the UK recently, are still untraceable as had given wrong addresses.
The bench also directed the authorities to ensure that not more than 50 people attend a marriage and told the State to take action against those violating the GOs issued in this regard. The bench directed the government to submit a report informing about the steps taken and contemplated to tackle the pandemic. It posted the matter to January 21.