Case BriefsCOVID 19High Courts

Uttaranchal High Court: A Division Bench of Sudhanshu Dhulia and Ravindra Maithani, JJ., directed for the use of rapid antibody tests for surveillance purpose at border points.

Court stated that presently the efforts that are being made by the State Authorities at the borders of Uttarakhand are not sufficient to check the return of persons who are coming more rapidly in ever increasing numbers.

“…many of them may be infected with the virus.”

The above was stated by the Court only after noting the fact that COVID-19 positive cases have increased in number in places like “Betal Ghat” in Nainital, Uttarakashi, Tehri, Almora and many other interior hill districts.

Court on observing that on borders only thermal screening and general clinical examination is being done, said that it is not a sufficient measure and more can be done in this regard.

Thus Court directed the following after discussion with Advocate General S.N. Babulkar assisted by Chief Standing Counsel, Paresh Tripathi, Assistant Solicitor General of India, Rakesh Thapliyal:

  • At each border point, State Government shall establish quarantine centres. All such returnees who are coming from red zones shall be kept for a period of one week. Out of these quarantined persons, those who have necessary symptoms, as per the guidelines of ICMR, shall be tested for RT-PCR.
  • Although rapid antibody test has not been approved by ICMR for diagnostic purposes, but since the result of this test is available in much less time, such tests can be used for surveillance purposes alone.
  • Secretary,Health, Government of India has fairly admitted that this test can be done on an experiment basis at border points and subject to its success or failure will be implemented further or discontinued.
  • ICMR has approved a testing kit, called “Elisa” Kit, under Integrated Disease Surveillance Programme, which can be made available to the State Government. Such tests have already been performed in District Pauri Garhwal of Uttarakhand. Let it be done for surveillance purposes in other districts as well.

Thus, in view of the above, Court asks Advocate general to file a progress report in regard to the above stated points.

Matter to be listed on 02-06-2020. [Sachdanand Dabra v. UOI, 2020 SCC OnLine Utt 229 , decided on 20-05-2020]

COVID 19Hot Off The PressNews

Testing is one of the most crucial weapons to fight COVID-19 and ICMR is doing everything it can to ramp up testing. This requires procurement of kits and supplying them to states. This procurement is being undertaken when globally there is huge demand for these test kits and various countries are applying their full might, monetary and diplomatic, to acquire them.

ICMR’S first attempt to procure these kits did not elicit any response from the suppliers. Its second attempt got adequate responses. Of these responses, taking sensitivity and specificity in mind, kits of 2 companies (Biomedemics and Wondfo) were identified for procurement.  Both had the requisite international certifications.

For Wondfo, evaluation committee got 4 bids and the corresponding quotes received were Rs. 1,204, Rs. 1,200, Rs. 844 and Rs. 600. Accordingly, bid offer of  Rs. 600 was considered as L-1.

In the meanwhile, ICMR also tried to procure the kits directly from Wondfo company in China through CGI. However, quotation received from direct procurement had the following issues:

    • Quotation was FOB (Free on Board) without any commitment on logistics issues.
    • The quotation was on the basis of 100% direct advance without any guarantees.
    • There was no commitment on timelines.
    • Rates were communicated in US dollars without any clause for accounting for fluctuations in prices.

Hence, it was decided to go Wondfo’s exclusive distributor for India for the kit who quoted an all inclusive price for FOB (logistics) without any clause for advance.

It needs to be also remembered that this was the first ever effort by any Indian agency to procure such kits and the rate quoted by the bidders was the only reference point.

After receipt of some supplies, ICMR has again conducted quality checks on these kits in field conditions.  Based on scientific assessment of their performance, the order in question (Wondfo) along with order in respect of another make found under-performing have been cancelled.

It needs to be stressed that ICMR has not made any payment whatsoever in respect of these supplies. Because of the due process followed (not going for procurement with 100% advance amount), GoI does not stand to lose a single rupee.

Ministry of Health and Family Welfare

[Press Release dt. 27-04-2020]

[Source: PIB]