The court directed authorities running private medical colleges and hospitals across Maharashtra to provide safety gears, including personal protective equipment (PPE) or Hazmat suits, in adequate numbers to all doctors and health care workers within a weeks’ time in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak.
After the state government issued directions to private hospitals to prepare isolation wards, the Nagpur bench of the Bombay High Court Thursday directed authorities running private medical colleges and hospitals across Maharashtra to provide safety gears, including personal protective equipment (PPE) or Hazmat suits, in adequate numbers to all doctors and health care workers within a weeks’ time in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak.
A single judge bench of Justice S B Shukre passed an order in petitions seeking various reliefs and facilities during COVID- 19 pandemic.
The direction came after amicus curiae advocate Anoop J Gilda submitted that protection equipment is required to be given beyond government hospitals treating COVID-19 positive persons to private hospitals as many patients are receiving treatment at private medical institutions and facilities to quarantine them are being set up.
Accepting the demand being ‘the need of the hour,’ Justice Shukre asked Director of Medical Education and Research to communicate with authorities running private medical colleges and hospitals to comply with the directions.
While directing the government to provide safety gears for the doctors at government hospitals and medical colleges on March 23, the court had observed, “The doctors and staff members are rendering their services tirelessly and with full dedication. They have treated them and are treating them with all necessary care and concern. We appreciate their sincerity, valiance and commitment. However, we are also concerned about their safety and security as well as safety of members of their families.”
The bench stressed on the importance of protective gear and added, “If no adequate safety gears are provided to these doctors and the staff members working at these hospitals, it is quite likely that some of them may get adversely affected and even the health of their family members would be jeopardized and these doctors and staff members may act as contagions.”
The court also requested the state finance authorities to extend March 27 deadline for submitting treasury bills in view of the extraordinary situation as medical authorities and other departments with depleted strength are focused on containing the disease.
Earlier, senior Counsel Jugalkishor Gilda had pointed out the paucity of testing kits and informed the court that in his discussion with the director of the National Institute of Virology (NIV), Pune, it has been revealed that if coordinated efforts are made by governments, there could be more testing kits available for laboratories testing COVID- 19 patients.
Justice Shukre also requested the Centre and state to consider grant of approval for private testing labs in Vidarbha region.
The court had on March 23 asked the Centre, state government and the NIV, Pune to coordinate to procure adequate number of testing kits and to verify claims made by IIT, Delhi of developing affordable coronavirus testing kits within two weeks and make efforts to procure Indian kits.
The court also asked the state government to take necessary steps for creation of laboratories for COVID-19 testing within two weeks at Yavatmal, Gadchiroli and Chandrapur districts where confirmed cases of COVID-19 have been found and facilities be made functional within two weeks.
The court has posted the matter further hearing on March 30.
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