THE Supreme Court today directed the Central Government to ensure availability of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to all health care workers who are attending to and treating the patients suffering from COVID-19.
The court also directed the Centre, State Governments and Union Territories and police authorities to ensure the security of doctors and medical staff.
A two-judge bench comprising Justices Ashok Bhushan and S Ravindra Bhat passed the following directions:
The respondents as per guidelines dated 24.03.2020 of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare are directed to ensure availability of appropriate Personal Protective Equipments, including 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, headcovers 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.
The Government of India, respective States/Union Territories and respective Police authorities are directed to provide the necessary Police security to the Doctors and medical staff in hospitals and places where patients who have been diagnosed COVID-19 or patients suspected of COVID-19 or those quarantined are housed. Necessary Police security be also extended to Doctors and other medical staff who visit places to conduct screening of people to find out symptoms of the disease.
The State shall also take necessary action against those persons who obstruct and commit any offence in respect to the performance of duties by Doctors, medical staff and other Government Officials deputed to contain COVID-19.
The Government shall explore all alternatives including enabling and augmenting domestic production of protective clothing and gear to the medical professional. 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 the export of such materials to augment inventory and domestic stock.
These directions were passed by the apex court in a petition filed by Dr Jerryl Banait and other doctors who sought measures for ensuring the safety of medical professions and health workers who are combing the COVID-19 pandemic.