The Supreme Court on Monday directed the Central Government to suggest necessary guidelines through which Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) could be rationally used and provided to medical health officials working in non-COVID-19 treatment areas across the country.
The Bench comprising of Justices NV Ramana, SK Kaul and BR Gavai was hearing an application for the provision of PPEs to all health workers in 'Non-COVID treatment areas' due to the reported increase in the infection from asymptomatic patients. Advocates Shreeyash Uday Lalit and Krishna Kumar Singh, appearing for the applicants through video conferencing, apprised the Court of the recent rise in positive cases in people who did not exhibit symptoms of COVID-19 and the need to secure the protection of all medical healthcare workers thereof.
"We find substance in the suggestions made by the applicant", recorded the Bench in agreement with the submissions and ordered thus:-
"In view of the above, we direct the respondent/ Union of India to examine this issue and make necessary suggestions in the 'Rational Use of Personal Protective Equipment' guidelines so that PPEs are provided to all health officials, as stated above, who are working in non -COVID treatment areas."
The present application, which intervened in another plea that had sought measures to ensure the safety of medical professionals combating COVID-19 from the frontline, was disposed of with explicit directions that the order passed on April 8 in the original matter would continue.
On April 8, alluding to all healthcare professionals treating COVID-19 patients in India as the "first line of defense of the country", the Court directed the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare to ensure the availability of appropriate PPEs to them.
The Centre, States and Union Territories were further directed to ensure the protection of all Doctors and medical staff engaged in Hospitals and other places where COVID-19 patients, or those suspected of being infected, or those quarantined were housed, by providing necessary Police security.
State Governments were further directed to take necessary action against persons obstructing performance of duties by medical professionals.
This order continues to be in force and applies "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".
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