Doctors / medical staff being first line of defence to combat COVID-19 have to be protected by providing PPE. Supreme Court directions to Government
ABCAUS Case Law Citation:
ABCAUS 3296 (2020) (04) SC
The directions have been issued in pursuance of a Public Interest The Hon’ble Supreme Court have issued directions
Litigation (PIL)filed by a medical professional praying for various directions in reference to pandemic COVID-19.
The Hon’ble Supreme Court have stated that to combat COVID-19 the first line of defence in battling such a pandemic is the Doctors and the medical staff who are the most vulnerable to fall prey to the virus, while protecting others from it. The WHO’s guidelines for rational use of personal protective equipment for coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). contains recommendations regarding type of personal protective equipment to be used for health care workers Doctors and others.
The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Directorate General of Health Services has also issued guidelines on “Rational use of Personal Protective Equipment”.
The petitioner had prayed for issuing a direction to the Government to implement those guidelines and to ensure availability of PPE 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, 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-2and Tier-3 cities. A direction had also sought for providing security to Doctors and other paramedical profession.
On query from the Court, the Solicitor General submitted that the stand of the Union of India is not adversary to any of the relief claimed in the Writ Petition(s). He further submitted that the Government of India is taking all necessary steps regarding providing Personal Protection Equipments (PPEs) including procuring them from domestic manufacturers and other necessities for the doctors. He assured that for protection to the hospitals and doctors, the Government will go an extra mile to augment the security as existing today. Appropriate security will be provided to all the Covid-19 hospitals and doctors.
He also ruled out the apprehension that the Government is going to deduct certain part of the salary from the Government doctors to be utilized for procuring protective equipment and assured that no part of the salary of the Government doctors will be deducted.
The Hon’ble Supreme Court issued the following interim directions to the Government of India:
(1)The Govt., as per guidelines of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, ensure availability of appropriate PPEs, gloves, apparels, masks, shoe/head covers, 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 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 disease.
(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 professional. Further, the Government may also restrict export of such materials to augment inventory and domestic stock.
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