Tribune News Service
New Delhi, April 8
The Supreme Court on Wednesday directed the government to ensure availability of appropriate personal protective equipment for all doctors, nurses and other health workers actively attending to COVID-19 patients in Metro cities, Tier-2 and Tier-3 cities across India.
As per March 24 guidelines issued by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, such equipment include sterile medical/Nitrile gloves, starch apparels, medical masks, goggles, face shield, respirators (i.e. N-95 Respirator Mask or Triple Layer Medical Mask or equivalent), shoe covers, head covers and coveralls/gowns.
A Bench headed by Justice Ashok Bhushan also ordered the Centre, states, union territories and respective Police authorities to provide the necessary police security to the doctors and medical staff engaged in treating diagnosed or suspected COVID-19 patients in hospitals and quarantine centres.
“The State shall take necessary action against those persons who obstruct and commit any offence in respect to performance of duties by Doctors, medical staff and other Government Officials deputed to contain COVID-19,” said the Bench which also included Justice S Ravindra Bhat.
It specifically mentioned the incidents that took place against doctors and health workers in Ghaziabad and Indore.
The top court directed the Government to explore all alternatives, including enabling and augmenting domestic production of protective clothing and gear to provide the personal protective equipment needed for medical professional.
Alternative modes of production of such clothing (masks, suits, caps, gloves etc.) and permitting movement of raw materials may be explored, it said, adding, “The Government may also restrict export of such materials to augment inventory and domestic stock.”
The order came on a PIL filed by Nagpur-based doctor Jerryl Banait seeking directions for personal protective equipment for medical professionals and their security.
During the hearing, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta said the government was not opposed to the demands of the petitioner and all necessary steps for providing personal protective equipment and security were being taken.
“The Government will go an extra mile to augment the security as existing today (for doctors and health workers),” Mehta said.
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