States to undertake fire safety audits of COVID-19 hospitals: SC
The Supreme Court on Friday directed all the states to carry out fire safety audits 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, those hospitals, whose fire NOC has expired, will have to get it renewed within four weeks. The bench, also comprising justices RS Reddy and MR Shah, said that observance of COVID-19 guidelines in political rallies will be looked into by the Election Commission.
The top court said that all the states will follow COVID-19 guidelines, including on wearing of face masks and adherence to social distancing measures, and the standard operating procedure issued by the competent authority.
Earlier, the apex court had taken cognizance of a fire incident at a designated COVID-19 hospital in Gujarat's Rajkot in which several patients had died. The bench said every state is obliged to appoint a nodal officer to ensure that there is no repeat of fire incidents in hospitals. If fire measures are not followed in COVID-19 hospitals, state government will take necessary action.
The Rajkot fire incident cropped up in the top court while hearing a suo motu case on the treatment of COVID-19 patients and handling of bodies. While hearing the case on December 15, the bench had asked the Centre to consider granting a break to doctors engaged in COVID-19 duty for the last seven-eight months, saying continuous work might be affecting their mental health.