NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Wednesday sought Centre's response to a plea seeking direction to ensure availability of World Health Organization-graded protective gear for all medical professionals and health workers involved in the treatment of COVID-19 patients.
A bench headed by Justices DY Chandrachud and MR Shah took up the matter for hearing through video conference. Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for Centre, urged the top court to not issue a notice on this matter, saying the government has already taken cognizance and is taking steps accordingly.
The court asked the Centre to furnish a response by next week.
The plea has been filed by a medical professional, Dr. Jerryl Banait, seeking direction to Centre to ensure the availability of appropriate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), including sterile medical/nitrile gloves, starch apparels, medical masks, goggles, face shield, respirators (N-95 Respirator Mask or triple layer medical mask or equivalent), shoe covers, head covers and coveralls/gowns to all health workers -- doctors, nurses, ward boys, other medical and paramedical professionals -- actively treating patients suffering from COVID-19 across India.
The petitioner seeks the apex court direction to state governments to set up COVID-19 special screening centres in smaller towns and other cities and take immediate steps to ensure effective implementation of the guidelines for Infection Prevention and Control in Healthcare Facilities issued on January 25.
The petitioner also insisted strict adherence to the guidelines issued by the WHO and the MoHFW on rational use of the PPE kits.
"In the absence of appropriate protective gear, doctors put themselves at the risk of being affected by the virus in the discharge of their duties. It is the duty of the states to ensure graded protective gear to doctors and other welfare facilities so as to aid them to combat the virus", said the plea.
The petition contended that the need of the hour is to ensure that state governments take immediate actions to provide adequate protective gear to the medical professionals.
"Direct the departments, ministries or authorities to provide essential equipment of WHO standardization as soon as possible to all primary health care systems and hospitals in all states of India", said the plea.