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Opinion

SC seeks response from the Center, states on Covid-19 guidelines, fire safety in hospitals

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On Wednesday, the Supreme Court sought a “detailed” response from the Center and the states on issues ranging from adhering to the Covid-19 guidelines on the use of face masks and social distancing norms to implementing the guidelines of fire safety in hospitals and nursing homes across India.

The high court was hearing a suo motu case filed by him to ensure the proper treatment of Covid-19 patients in hospitals and the dignified handling of dead bodies there.

Recently, it also became aware of the incident of the fire at a designated Covid-19 hospital in Gujarat’s Rajkot, in which several patients had died, raising the problem of the lack of adequate fire safety measures in hospitals across the country. country. A bank headed by Judge Ashok Bhushan asked Attorney General Tushar Mehta, who appeared for the Center and the Gujarat government, to submit detailed affidavits within three days on issues such as compliance with Covid-19 guidelines and fire safety measures in hospitals and nursing homes.

The court, which also comprises Justices RS Reddy and MR Shah, ordered states to submit affidavits before Friday on action taken on these issues and settled the suo motu case for hearing on December 14.

The bank ordered the Justice (Retired) DA Mehta committee to investigate the Ahmedabad fire incident, in addition to the tragedy of the Covid-19 hospital fire in Rajkot, which is already being investigated by the panel.

At first, the law enforcement officer said that he would ask the Gujarat government to appoint a judge to investigate the hospital fire incidents if the higher court suggested a name to spearhead such an investigation.

“It is up to the discretion of this court,” Mehta said.

Mehta said the Center has asked all states and Union Territories (UT) to submit a status report on the implementation of fire safety guidelines to prevent the recurrence of fire incidents in hospitals and nursing homes.

A detailed report on fire safety will be prepared after receiving input from the states, he said.

Then the bank asked about the fire safety audit of Gujarat and the hospitals there and said how many nodal officers have been appointed. He then asked about steps taken to enforce Covid-19 guidelines on wearing face masks in public and adhering to social distancing rules.

“You file a detailed affidavit detailing all the steps taken,” it read.

Previously, the supreme court had said that people are violating Covid-19 guidelines on wearing face masks in public places “with impunity” and are not adhering to social distancing norms.

It detained the authorities for failing to guarantee strict compliance with these measures to contain the coronavirus and asked the Center and the states to give suggestions so that the appropriate instructions can be issued to implement these guidelines.

However, the high court had upheld the Gujarat High Court’s direction to send people caught without masks to perform community service at Covid-19 patient care facilities.

He had taken note of statements by the Gujarat government that the order was severe and had serious repercussions on the offenders’ health.

The high court had asked the Gujarat government to strictly enforce the Covid-19 guidelines.

The high court had also expressed concern about the increase in the number of Covid-19 cases across the country.

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