NEW DELHI: The Centre informed the Supreme Court on Wednesday that all states and Union Territories have been advised to provide suitable separate accommodation to all healthcare workers, wherever required.
It said the Joint Monitoring Group of experts, headed by Director General of Health Service, has mandated use of home isolation for even mild cases of Covid-19.
In an affidavit filed in reply to the PIL moved by a private doctor on May 15, raising questions over the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) by which quarantine of health care workers (HCWs) are made non-mandatory, the Centre said that home isolation/ quarantine is ideal, wherever possible, as it is scientifically based.
“Those who do not have such facility can be isolated in other facilities. For example, if doctors or HCWs of Central government are suspected to be having symptoms of Covid, they are isolated at the AIIMS COVID treatment facility at Jhajjar/AIIMS Trauma Centre,” it said.
The Centre said state governments have also made different arrangements with various hotels, rest houses, hostels, and other places for providing alternative accommodation to HCWs.
The plea filed by Arushi Jain had raised questions on the Centre's May 15 decision that 14-day quarantine was not mandatory for doctors.
The petition, filed through advocates Mithu Jain and Mohit Paul, also alleged that front line healthcare workers engaged in the fight against Covid-19 are not being paid salaries or their wages are being cut or delayed.
The Centre said the central and the state governments are committed to disbursing salaries and extending other applicable benefits to the doctor employed in medical and healthcare establishments.
“Any instance to the contrary will be immediately forwarded to the concerned state and followed up with the authorities for necessary action,” it said.
On the grievance of lengthy duty hours of doctors and HCWs, the Centre said that they usually do duties in shifts in all the clinical specialities and the same principles are being followed in COVID-19 facilities.
It said that during the meeting of JMG, “It was discussed that wherever duty hours are longer, the shifts are staggered in such a manner that no doctor or HCW is overburdened. Further, to take care of doctors and HCWs sufficient water and electrolyte etc. are kept in the donning and doffing areas.”
The affidavit said, “Therefore it is respectfully submitted that the duty rostering and shift management are carefully drawn out as per the convenience of the doctors and HCWs, also catering to most optimal functioning in these testing times”.
The Centre said the government is fully sensitive to the safety, security and all other concerns of the doctors and health care workers and accords them the highest priority.