Petition filed in LHC for free COVID-19 tests
Statesman Report
LAHORE: A writ petition was filed in the Lahore High Court (LHC), seeking directions to the quarters concerned to ensure that novel coronavirus tests are free of cost at all government and private hospitals and laboratories.
The Judicial Activism Panel, Human Rights and Public Interest Litigation Association filed the petition through Advocate Mohammad Azhar Siddique.
The petition states that the majority of people are out of work owing to the government’s imposition of lockdown and thereby it is difficult for most people to make ends meet. They barely have money for necessities.
The cost of COVID-19 tests ranges from Rs5,000 to Rs8,000 per person, which unaffordable for most of the people, it said.
The petition said the virus is a global threat and yet the private laboratories and hospitals are charging exorbitant rates for testing.
A family of four with a budget of Rs20,000 per month would have to pay the entire amount to get tested at the minimum rate if even one of them shows symptoms of the COVID-19 infection. If they do not get tested, they risk spreading the virus to others, paving way for another dilemma. Moreover, the family will not be able to pay for essential in such a crisis.
The petition said lack of money for testing among such families would lead to reporting of inaccurate number of active COVID-19 cases in Pakistan, which in turn means that the government would be unprepared if the number of cases suddenly rises.
The paramount constitutional right to life is enshrined under Article 9. Thereby, it is the duty of the state to provide basic and essential facilities to the public at large and at the moment free testing to diagnose COVID-19 is essential for the life and wellbeing of the nation.