The Bombay High Court (Nagpur bench) has issued a slew of directions to ensure utmost care regarding the treatment and prevention of the deadly COVID-19.
Notably, Maharashtra is presently the worst hit state by the Corona virus. In this backdrop, the bench of Justices Sunil B. Shukre & Avinash G. Gharote stressed on the need to ensure availability of adequate number of testing centers and requisite medical equipments.
Pertinently, the bench has directed the State government to take necessary steps for creation and operation of VRDL facilities for testing of COVID-19 within two weeks, at places like Yavatmal, Gadchiroli and Chandrapur, where confirmed cases of COVID-19 have been found.
Another major concern raised during the hearing was transmission of the virus from the medical staff attending to the COVID19 patients, to their own family members.
In this regard, the court has directed that the authorities will themselves have to give their thoughtful consideration to such a contingency and would have to come out with some solution which is acceptable to all concerned.
One of the solutions, the court suggested, could be to advice the doctors and all staff members attending to the COVID19 patients to stay at the respective hospitals and not to return home for certain period of time. "But, if any direction in this regard is to be given, it would be for the concerned medical authority to do so and in that case also, residential facility would have to be created at the concerned hospital," the court said.
Further, it has been directed:
- The Union of India and the State of Maharashtra should consider grant of approval and registration to private laboratories across the State of Maharashtra which are already equipped with COVID-19 testing facility including Dhruv laboratory, Nagpur and grant approval to such of the private laboratories as are found to be fulfilling the applicable norms, within a week.
- The State should make necessary arrangements for setting up of the isolation wards at the Central Jails across the Vidarbha region, within a week.
- The State Government should ensure that Prevention and Protection Equipment (PPE) are provided at all places in adequate numbers, for providing protection to the doctors, nursing staff and sanitation workers who are attending to COVID-19 cases, within a week.
- The Union of India, State of Maharashtra and local authorities should coordinate with each other and also coordinate with NIV, Pune for procuring adequate number of additional testing kits.
- Union of India should take necessary steps for introducing duly approved Indian kits in the field so that more kits could be made available for testing purpose.
- Union of India should verify a newspaper report as per which the IIT Delhi has developed a new COVID testing kit which is much cheaper than the one available as of now. If the report is found to be correct, the government should seek a feasibility report from NIV, Pune within two weeks and then do the needful in the matter.
- The State should ensure that thermal screening of all the passengers arriving from domestic flights is carried out at Nagpur Airport until the situation improves.
- Local authorities like Collector, Nagpur and NMC Nagpur should create necessary awareness and also issue directions, to the concerned authorities at Airport, Railways and Bus stations, for providing appropriate safety gears to their respective staff members. This would also apply to other public sector undertakings, State or Central.
The court also said that issue of an order under Section 144 of CrPC would not be enough to restrict the movement of individual persons on roads and confine the members of the community to their respective homes. "For that matter, the Police Commissioner and the District Magistrate would also have to consider if the order be issued under this very Section in a manner as to prohibit movement of even a single person on public roads and public places including in the vehicles on public roads and public places," it said.
Inter alia, the court took note of a newspaper report, highlighting that a lady, suffering from cough, cold and high fever was turned away by a Corona virus testing facility in Nagpur, on the ground that she had no foreign travel history.
The bench has directed the Collector, Nagpur as well as Municipal Commissioner, Nagpur to get this report verified for its correctness and if it is found to be correct, then necessary steps be taken in the matter, since it raises a serious concern over the safety of all those persons who have happened to come in contact with any of such patients.
The matter is now listed for April 4.
Case Title: Subhash Jainarayan Zanwar v. Union of India
Case No.: PIL No. 10/2020
Quorum: Justices Sunil B. Shukre & Avinash G. Gharote