A bench of Justices Ashok Bhushan and S Ravindra Bhat also said action should be taken against those hindering healthcare staff and other government officials deputed to contain the outbreak from performing their duties. (File Photo/Representational)
The Supreme Court Wednesday asked the government to ensure availability of personal protective equipment to doctors and other medical staff fighting the COVID-19 pandemic and to provide them with necessary police security.
A bench of Justices Ashok Bhushan and S Ravindra Bhat also said action should be taken against those hindering healthcare staff and other government officials deputed to contain the outbreak from performing their duties.
The court's direction to provide security to healthcare workers comes after the stone pelting incident in Indore and alleged instances of misbehaviour with medical staff in Ghaziabad—episodes which it took note of while passing its order.
“...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,” the top court said.
“Doctors and the medical staff who are the first line of defence of the country to combat with this pandemic have to be protected by providing PPEs as recommended by WHO on 27.02.2020,” it said.
The Supreme Court also wanted the Government to explore all alternatives, “including enabling and augmenting domestic production of protective clothing and gear to medical professional”.
This, it said, “includes the exploring of alternative modes of production of such clothing...and permitting movement of raw materials”.
The bench was hearing a PIL by Jerryl Banait, a medical practitioner who highlighted issues related to safety of health workers attending to COVID-19 patients.
Appearing for the Centre, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta said the government's stand in the matter is not adversary to any of the reliefs claimed, adding that it is taking all necessary steps for providing PPEs and other necessities for doctors and health staff.
On the question of security to medical staff and hospitals, Mehta said: “The government will go an extra mile to augment the security as existing today”.
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