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Make Covid warriors feel safe: SC

June 13, 2020 05:33 AM

COUTESY HT JUNE 13

Make Covid warriors feel safe: SC
PANDEMIC: Cannot keep Covid warriors unhappy in warlike situation, top court tells Centre in petition complaining of inadequate quarantine facilities for health care workers

Abraham Thomas

letters@hindustantimes.com

New Delhi : Unpaid salaries to doctors and lack of quarantine facilities for heathcare workers engaged in fighting the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) led an anguished Supreme Court on Friday to remark that in a war-like situation, the Centre should travel the extra mile to ensure that the corona warriors are kept safe and happy.

The Court was dealing with a petition by a doctor, Arushi Jain who complained of inadequate quarantine facilities across the country. Representing the petitioner, senior advocate KV Vishwanathan informed the Court that as per May 15, 2020 Guidelines issued by the Health Ministry titled “Advisory for Managing Healthcare Workers working in COVID and non-COVID Areas of the Hospital”, only high-risk health care workers or those showing symptoms of COVID-19 need 14-day quarantine. He wondered how such a distinction could be made.

The bench of Justices Ashok Bhushan, SK Kaul and MR Shah said, “This is a kind of war (against Coronavirus pandemic). You cannot keep soldiers unhappy during a war. Travel the extra mile to make the corona warriors (doctors, nurses, medical staff) feel safe.”

Vishwanathan also informed the Court that some doctors working at government and private hospitals have not been paid salaries in full.

Noting these facts with concern, the bench told Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, who attended the virtual court hearing through videoconferencing, “These issues should not engage our attention. It should be settled by you (Government). ”

Mehta submitted that the concerns expressed by the petitioner seem to be ad-hoc, but added that the petitioner could frame a representation highlighting the problems, and that these would be addressed by the government.

The bench allowed the petitioner to file a representation highlighting these concerns and make suggestions to the Union Health Secretary. The Centre was directed to consider the same and file a report by Wednesday, the next date of hearing.

Earlier, in response to the petition, the Centre filed an affidavit claiming that protecting health care workers was the government’s top-most priority because it expects a surge in the number of coronavirus infections in the coming days. “At some point of time in near future, apart from existing hospitals, large number of temporary makeshift hospitals will have to be created.”

It also categorised health care workers as low-risk and high-risk in terms of their potential exposure to the virus.

In response to the Centre’s affidavit, the petitioner filed a reply stating that all healthcare workers serving in Covid-19 centres and hospitals, by default, are in the high-risk category due to the infectious nature of this disease.

 

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