The Supreme Court on Wednesday directed the government to ensure the availability of appropriate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) including masks, goggles, respirators, among others to health workers. The doctors, nurses, ward boys, other medical and paramedical professionals actively attending and treating patients suffering from coronavirus in metro cities, tier-2 and tier-3 cities should be made available appropriate PPEs, the Supreme Court said. Adding, it said that the governments at the centre, state and UTs must direct respective police authorities to provide the necessary police security to the doctors and medical staff in the hospitals. The government must also take necessary action against those persons who obstruct and commit any offence in respect to the performance of duties of the health workers, the apex court added.
"The Government shall explore all alternatives including enabling and augmenting domestic production of protective clothing and gear to medical professional. This includes the exploring of alternative modes of production of such clothing (masks, suits, caps, gloves etc.) and permitting movement of raw materials. Further, the Government may also restrict export of such materials to augment inventory and domestic stock," the Supreme Court added.
Meanwhile, the Supreme Court ordered the government to ensure free testing for coronavirus at both government and private labs. The testing is currently capped at Rs 4,500 in private labs. The tests should be conducted in the NABL-accredited labs or agencies approved by the WHO or ICMR (Indian Council of Medical Research), the Supreme Court added. "Private hospitals including laboratories have an important role to play in containing the scale of the pandemic by extending philanthropic services in the hour of national crisis," the Supreme Court also said.