Friday , October 22 2021

SC Directs All States To Carry Out Fire Safety Audit Of Dedicated COVID-19 Hospitals Across Country

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday directed all the states to carry out fire safety audit of dedicated COVID-19 hospitals across the country to prevent fire incidents in medical institutions.

The apex court also directed dedicated COVID-19 hospitals to take a no objection certificate (NOC) from the fire department within four weeks and said that failure to do so will invite punitive action.

A bench headed by Justice Ashok Bhushan said that those hospitals, whose fire NOC has expired, will have to get it renewed within four weeks.

The bench, also comprising justices R S Reddy and M R Shah, said that issue of political rallies and observance of COVID-19 guidelines will be looked into by the Election Commission.

The apex court had earlier taken cognisance of a fire incident in a designated COVID-19 hospital in Gujarat’s Rajkot in which several patients had died.

The Supreme Court on Friday asked the government to devise a mechanism to give rotational breaks to doctors and healthcare personnel, who have been working continuously since April.

A bench headed by Justice Ashok Bhushan asked Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, representing the Centre, to look into the matter as doctors and health care personnel are at the forefront of fighting Covid-19 pandemic. Mehta said the Centre will take a decision on this issue within two days.

Earlier, the top court had emphasized that it is essential to give a break to doctors and health care personnel who are involved in fighting the pandemic.

The Supreme Court also asked the Union Territories and the state governments to form committees to undertake fire safety audit of all hospitals, including exclusive Covid care facilities, every month.

The bench observed that each state government must appoint a nodal officer, who should be responsible for the fire safety for hospitals.

The bench added that these nodal officers, including in Covid hospitals, should ensure strict adherence to fire safety norms, and those hospitals, which do not have fire safety standards NOCs must get it as soon as possible or else, otherwise strong action will be taken against them.

Earlier, the Supreme Court had expressed displeasure at the repeated constitution of committees to probe the fire incidents at two private Covid hospitals — Rajkot and Ahmedabad — in Gujarat. The top court directed Gujarat to file the report into these incidents.

The observations from the top court came while hearing a suo moto case regarding the treatment of Covid patients and the dignified handling of the dead bodies of people who had Covid-19.

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