Supreme Court tells Centre to examine providing PPE to healthcare workers in non-Covid areas
Various states have reported a growing number of asymptomatic Covid-19 patients. Maharashtra chief minister Uddhav Thackeray on Sunday said 80% of coronavirus patients were asymptomatic in his state, which is the worst-hit by the pandemic in the country.Updated: Apr 28, 2020 20:48 IST
The Supreme Court has cited a rise in asymptomatic Covid-19 patients and asked the Centre whether it was feasible to arrange protective gears for all medical personnel regardless of whether they are involved in dealing with the pandemic.
Various states have reported a growing number of asymptomatic Covid-19 patients. Maharashtra chief minister Uddhav Thackeray on Sunday said 80% of coronavirus patients were asymptomatic in his state, which is the worst-hit by the pandemic in the country.
“We direct the Union of India to examine this issue and make necessary suggestions in the ‘Rational Use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)’ Guidelines so that PPEs are provided to all health officials who are working in non-Covid treatment areas,” a bench of Justices N V Ramana, S K Kaul and B R Gavai said in an order on Monday.
The court had on April 8 directed the Centre to ensure PPEs are made available to doctors, nurses, ward boys and paramedical staff treating Covid-19 patients or those who come in contact with them at the designated isolation/quarantine wards.
The court’s fresh direction come in response to Nagpur-based medical practitioner Sameer Paltewar’s plea that highlighted that all health care workers were at the risk of contracting the infection.
Advocate Shreeyash Uday Lalit, who appeared for Paltewar, said a hospital functions like an ecosystem. “Even if one health care professional is compromised with Covid-19, any hospital administration will have no choice but to cordon off the whole area.”
The plea cited examples of two Mumbai hospitals, where medical personnel got infected by patients being treated for non-Covid-19 illnesses. Over 300 staffers of these hospitals had to be quarantined after around 30 nurses and doctors tested positive for Covid-19. A similar situation forced authorities to quarantine 100 health care professionals at a Delhi hospital.
The plea said health workers in Covid-19 wards are required to visit non-Covid-19 areas and added this puts the entire ecosystem at serious risk.
“Infection from asymptomatic patients is reported to be on the rise in the country. We find substance in the suggestions made by the applicant,” the court said.
Solicitor general Tushar Mehta, who appeared for the Centre, assured the court that the suggestions will be considered if not included in the revised guidelines.