Supreme Court says COVID-19 pandemic is a national calamity; passes directions for protection of doctors and frontline workers

Supreme Court says COVID-19 pandemic is a national calamity; passes directions for protection of doctors and frontline workers

The Supreme Court today passed a slew of interim directions for the Government to ensure the protection of doctors and healthcare workers who are combating the COVID-19 pandemic on the frontlines.

When the Bench of Justices Ashok Bhushan and S Ravindra Bhat took up the matters pertaining to protection of doctors and provision of protective gear to healthcare professionals actively dealing with the COVID-19 patients, the Centre assured the Court that the government would walk an extra mile to protect doctors.

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The Court was told that the government is taking all the possible and necessary steps to ensure that the doctors and healthcare professionals are protected, with Solicitor General for India Tushar Mehta terming them the "corona warriors".

The Court took the submissions on record and further passed certain interim directions for the Government to comply on the issue.

The pandemic which is engulfing the entire country is a national calamity. In wake of calamity of such nature all citizens of the country have to act in a responsible manner to extend helping hand to the Government and medical staff to perform their duties to contain and combat the COVID-19.
The Court said, at the outset.

At a time when the citizenry is looking at doctors and medical professionals for protecting them against the deadly novel coronavirus, the Court noted that reports of attacks mounted on medical professionals and COVID-19 patients escaping from treatment facilities "are bound to instill a sense of insecurity in Doctors and medical staff".

It is the duty of the administration and the police to ensure adequate security is provided to these professionals, the Court said. The Bench added that security should be ensured even when medical health professionals make visits for screening.

The Court then went on to pass the following directions:

1. The concerned authorities are to ensure availability of appropriate Personal Protective Equipments, including sterile medical/nitrile gloves, starch apparels, medical masks, goggles, face shield, respirators, shoe covers, head covers and coveralls/gowns to all health workers, including doctors, nurses, ward boys, other medical and paramedical professionals actively attending to, and treating patients suffering from COVID-19 in India, in Metro cities, Tier-2 and Tier-3 cities.

2. The concerned governments and authorities to provide necessary Police security to the doctors and medical staff in hospitals, places where corona positive patients or suspected patients are housed, as well as when medical staff make visits for screenings and check ups.

3. The State shall also 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.

4. The Government shall explore all alternatives including enabling and augmenting domestic production of protective clothing and gear to medical professionals. This includes the exploring of alternative modes of production of such clothing (masks, suits, caps, gloves etc.) and permitting movement of raw materials. Further, the Government may also restrict export of such materials to augment inventory and domestic stock.

Read the Order:

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Jerryl banait vs UOI - 08.04.2020.pdf
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