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“The matter requires intervention of both the Centre as well as authorities of both the Union Territories of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh," the Court said.
The Jammu and Kashmir High Court on Tuesday issued a series of directions with a view to controlling the spread of Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) in the area.
The Bench of Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice Rajesh Bindal passed the order after taking note of a letter sent by one Dr. Zahoor Hussain Mir. Mir informed the Court about the dire situation faced by his niece and other Indian students stranded in Tehran, which has emerged as the second epicentre of the Coronavirus outbreak.
The letter raised grievance over the delay in evacuating Indian students from Tehran, particularly since all air operations have now been suspended by the Iranian government.
The Court also took not that the students stranded in Iran were facing shortage of supplies required to combat Coronavirus infections, including masks, medication and essential medical commodities, owing to the shutdown imposed by the Iranian authorities.
The Bench emphasised that pending the evacuation, it is absolutely essential to ensure all preventive measures as well as basic requirements to the Indian students in Iran.
Observing that immediate assistance was required for Indian students in Iran, the Court proceeded to implead various Union Ministries and government authorities of Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh.
In particular, the Court has impleaded the Union Ministry of External Affairs, the Union Health Ministry, the Union Civil Aviation Ministry, the Government of Jammu & Kashmir, the Government of Ladakh, the Commissioner/Secretary of the Heath and Medical Department of Jammu and the Commissioner/Secretary of the Heath and Medical Department of Ladakh.
The Court proceeded to direct that steps for prevention and treatment should also be taken within Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh, including the creation of isolation and quarantine facilities.
Moreover, medical and health professionals who would come in direct contact with persons affected by Coronavirus should be protected and properly equipped, the Court said. Information regarding the disease and its spread were also crucial to prevent general panic, the Bench has noted.
The Court further opined,
“The above steps cannot wait the arrival of the infection in the Union Territories of Jammu and Kashmir as well as Ladakh and must be initiated immediately and completed at the earliest.”
Jammu & Kashmir High Court
Therefore, the following directions have been passed by the High Court:
The Central Government is to ensure, through the Indian Embassy in Iran, the availability of required materials, including masks, medication and essential commodities including food etc. to all Indians, especially students, stranded in Tehran, Iran.
The Government is to identify the protocol to be followed, examine ways to implement the same and take steps for evacuation of Indian students stranded in Iran.
The Government of the concerned UTs is to ensure creation of proper facilities for isolation and quarantine in J&K and Ladakh. Testing laboratories as well as availability of the health care and medication should also be ensure for the prevention and treatment of the Corona infection.
The Government is to ensure availability of sufficient numbers and quantity of N-95 (or any other recommended) masks, for the public and separation kits for all medical personnel and staff.
Immediate steps should be taken for raising awareness regarding Corona in J&K and Ladakh.
The Court is to be informed about the steps taken to implement containment plan issued by the Union Health Ministry.
The Court has also appointed Monika Kohli as amicus curiae. The matter will be taken up next on March 12.
[Read the order]