Supreme Court directs COVID-19 testing done for free terming the pandemic as ‘national calamity’ | The Background

Sunday, September 19, 2021

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Supreme Court directs COVID-19 testing done for free terming the pandemic as ‘national calamity’

The Background:

Across the world, the confirmed number of COVID-19 positives cases stand at 1,464,852. Total number of death is 85,397. Recovered cases around the world are 315,105. Johns Hopkins University and Medicine also informs that in India total number of confirmed cases are 5,479 while number of casualties are 178. According to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, total number of cases is 5,274 while the death toll is 149. In West Bengal, according to the Ministry’s update, confirmed cases are 99 and number of death is 5.

The Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday held a video meeting with all political parties and reportedly suggested that the lockdown to check the spread of coronavirus will be extended and restrictions will not be lifted in one go after April 14. “Massive behavioral, social and personal changes will have to take place,” he reportedly told political leaders in the video conference.

Meanwhile, the Supreme Court of India on Wednesday passed a slew of interim directions for the Government to ensure the protection of doctors and healthcare workers who are combating the COVID-19 pandemic on the frontlines. Terming the pandemic as national calamity, the Court has said that in wake of calamity of such nature all citizens of the country have to act in a responsible manner to extend helping hand to the government and medical staff to perform their duties to contain and combat the COVID-19. The Court directed the concerned authorities to ensure availability of appropriate Personal Protective Equipments, including sterile medical/nitrile gloves, starch apparels, medical masks, goggles, face shield, respirators, shoe covers, head covers and coveralls/gowns to all health workers, including doctors, nurses, ward boys, other medical and paramedical professionals actively attending to, and treating patients suffering from COVID-19 in India, in Metro cities, Tier-2 and Tier-3 cities. It also directed concerned governments and concerned authorities to provide necessary Police security to the doctors and medical staff in hospitals, places where corona positive patients or suspected patients are housed, as well as when medical staff make visits for screenings and checkups.

In another significant order the Supreme Court directed that COVID-19 testing done by both government and private laboratories should be free of cost. The Court has also ordered that such tests be conducted only in National Accreditation Board for Testing and Calibration (NABL) accredited labs or agencies approved by the World Health Organization or the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR). The Court noted that the cost of Rs. 4,500 being charged by private labs for such tests was not feasible.

As India announced that it will relax the prohibition on the export of hydroxychloroquine and paracetamol for neighbouring countries and for those nations who have been hit hardest by the COVID-19 pandemic, the US President Donald Trump called Prime Minister Narendra Modi “great” and “really good”. He was confirmed that the first shipment of a total of 29 million doses of the drug was on its way from three factories in Gujarat to the United States, reports PTI.

Trump call this drug as a ‘game-changer’ and the medicine has been identified by the United States’ Food and Drug Administration as a possible treatment for COVID-19 cases.

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro also thanked Prime Minister Narendra Modi for agreeing to supply the antimalarial drug hydroxychloroquine to the country. He invoked Hindu god Hanuman and Jesus Christ to claim that India and Brazil will join forces to defeat the coronavirus pandemic. It is worth noting that while the external affairs ministry had made the announcement of relaxation, the Directorate General of Foreign Trade has not issued a notification amending its earlier order yet. India has put the drug in the prohibitive category for export items last month. But the far-right Brazilian President did not wait. He was quick to express his gratitude.

Meanwhile, Vietnam has expedited the shipment of 4,50,000 protective suits to the United States to help healthcare professionals there fight the coronavirus, the US Embassy in Hanoi said. Vietnam, which has recorded 251 coronavirus cases, with no deaths, said on Tuesday it had donated 550,000 masks to five European countries, Reuters reported.

The US president the President lashed out at the global health body, World Health Organisation, claiming it had underplayed the threat of the virus and that he had got it right.

“We’re going to put a hold on money spent to the WHO. We’re going to put a very powerful hold on it,” the President said in his briefing.

“They called it wrong. They missed the call. They could have called it months earlier,” Trump said.

“It’s a great thing if it works but when they call every shot wrong that’s no good,” he said, accusing the WHO of being biased towards China, which Republicans have accused of trying to cover up the virus.

This must go down as the most audacious comments of his presidency. He is a president who has the penchant to make false statements and predictions all through these years of his tenure.


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