Thursday, October 22, 2020

Pleas on nixing breathalyzer tests for airport staff junked

Kochi: The Kerala high court has dismissed petitions challenging the DGCA directive to conduct alcohol breathalyzer tests for its staff at airports. The petitioners had contended that the tests would result in further spreading Covid-19.

Justice N Nagaresh considered three petitions challenging the order of the Directorate General of Civil Aviation for conducting breathalyzer tests for personnel engaged in aircraft maintenance, air traffic control services, aerodrome operations, and ground handling services while reporting for duty. The procedures laid down by DGCA are sufficient to prevent the spread of infection, the court said.

The petitioners alleged that airports are focal points of Covid-19 containment strategies and breathalyzer tests conducted by the same medical staff and using the same devices increase the chance of coronavirus infection. Though such tests were suspended for 15 days, in view of the pandemic, they were resumed soon. Breathalyzers are not even sanitized or sterilized after each use, the petitioners contended, which is akin to violating a person’s right to life.

Airports Authority of India (AAI) submitted that aviation personnel are required to submit an undertaking, while reporting for duty, that they are not under the influence of alcohol and have not consumed alcohol or psycho-active substances in the last 12 hours. Taking into account the possible spread of Covid-19 through breathalyzers, an order was issued on September 7 prescribing precautions for averting any likelihood of spreading the virus, the court was told.

22/10/20 Mahir Haneef/Times of India

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