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The Supreme Court of India on Wednesday took cognisance of a PIL filed by Nagpur-based Dr Jerryl Banait and asked the centre to provide PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) and security to all doctors, paramedics and other health staff taking care of coronavirus affected patients in India. Similar PILs were also filed by Dr Arushi Jain and lawyer Amit Sahni.
In the matter of Dr Jerryl Banait Vs Union of India, the apex court issued directions urging the central and state governments to ensure the safety and well-being of doctors and healthcare workers.
The directions issued by the SC on basis of the PIL filed were:
→ To ensure the availability of PPE to all heath workers including doctors, nurses, ward boys, other medical and paramedical professionals.
→ To provide necessary Police security to the doctors and medical staff including those going out to collect samples.
→ To take necessary actions against people who obstruct and commit any offence in respect to performance of duties by doctors, medical staff and other Government officials.
→ To increase the production capacity of PPE and to ensure that protective equipment are domestically produced and impose necessary restrictions on their export.
Speaking about the reason behind filing the petition, Dr Jerryl told Nation Next: “Before the lockdown, my elder brother Dr Yash Banait was posted at Terminal 2 of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport. He was part of a 30-member team of doctors, who were screening the passengers for Coronavirus. My parents, and several my friends, who are doctors, treat patients regularly. I observed that my brother, my parents and my friends who are dealing with potential positive patients first hand lack necessary equipment to protect themselves from COVID-19. This compelled me to file the PIL.”
Dr Jerryl added, “If doctors and all health professionals are not protected, it can lead to a very catastrophic situation in the country. If doctors contract the virus, the patients he meets may contract the virus and also an absence of even one doctor may imbalance the working conditions of the staff.”
Speaking about the ill-treatment received by doctors treating COVID-19 patients, Dr Jerryl said, “People are mistreating doctors, who are coming out of their comfort zone to help coronavirus patients. It is simply not acceptable. There have been instances where doctors have been threatened and have been accused of spreading virus. Doctors are already struggling to keep their family safe. Doctors must be provided with facilities of isolation rooms so that they don’t have to come back to their families and risk spreading the virus. There must also be separate transportation facilities for them.”