The Delhi High Court today asked all private hospitals in the state to file an undertaking on the stock and supply situation of N95 face masks, personal protective equipment (PPE) kits and safety equipment meant for use by frontline health workers within seven days. It also directed the Delhi government to set up separate and dedicated helpline for nurses and ensure quarantine facility for them as per government guidelines if required.
Hearing a public interest petition filed by civil society organisation Distress Management Collective (DMC), the division bench consisting of Chief Justice D.N. Patel and Justice Prateek Jalan said the government can be approached to extend the facility of insurance ex gratia to non-COVID duty death cases too. The plea for appointment of nodal officer to look into grievances of nurses has also been considered.
Manoj V. George who represented DMC said the Court has passed "important and trend setting positive directions" on the basis of the petition filed by the Collective. The HC has also asked individual violations by any hospital to be brought before Court impleading individual hospitals.
The PIL alleges nurses in private hospitals and nursing homes in Delhi are undergoing severe stress since they need to take care of patients at their bedside without essential protective gear like PPE, N-95 Mask, gloves, etc. The petitioners want all private sector nurses/health workers whether assigned for Covid duties or requisitioned by State/Central government to be covered under the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Package of insurance protection for any accidental death due to Covid and the premium for the insurance scheme to be paid by government. They have also sought the Court's intervention to ensure every health worker/nurse is tested for Covid on weekly basis to ensure their safety.
"Quarantine of 14 days should be given to all medical workers with proper accommodation and nutritious food. Providing quarantine is more vital as families of health workers includes parents and children who are put to risk when we send them back to their homes", the petition points out.
DMC is a cohort of social workers, health professionals, lawyers, retired bureaucrats and retired Judges who have been intervening in alleviating distress during many occasions of crises like Kerala floods, Delhi Riots and recently Covid pandemic across the country.