The Supreme Court on Wednesday (8 April) ordered the Centre, states/Union Territories and police authorities to provide police security to doctors and medical staff in hospitals and places, including quarantine facilities, where patients are diagnosed for suspected COVID-19.
Moreover, protection should be extended to doctors and other medical staff visiting places to conduct screening of people to find out symptoms of disease.
Justice Ashok Bhushan and Justice S Ravindra Bhat passed the order on pleas raising concerns on protective gear for doctors and healthcare workers on the frontline, and also their security amid the COVID-19 outbreak.
The apex court noted the incident which happened on April 2 in Tatpatti Bakhal, a locality in Indore, where medical staff with doctors, in the area to screen certain persons for coronavirus, was attacked and stones were thrown at them by certain miscreants.
The top court also noted the incident at Ghaziabad where certain patients misbehaved with medical staff.
The court observed the pandemic is a national calamity.
“In the wake of calamity of such nature, all citizens of the country have to act in a responsible manner to extend a helping hand to the government and medical staff to perform their duties to contain and combat the COVID-19”, said the court.
The top court also directed the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, as per guidelines dated March 24, to ensure availability of appropriate Personal Protective Equipment, 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.
“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 12 other government officials deputed to contain COVID-19”, said the top court in one of the directions.
The top court also directed the government to 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 material to augment inventory and domestic stock”, said the court.
The court noted that doctors and the medical staff who are the first line of defence of the country to combat this pandemic have to be protected by providing Personal Protective Equipment as recommended by WHO on February 27.
The Centre”s counsel also informed the court that appropriate instructions shall be issued by the Directorate General of Health Services to private hospitals not to deduct any salary from the doctors working in the private hospitals and para-medical staff.
(This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text. Only the headline has been changed.)