The Supreme Court on Friday, December 18, ordered all states to carry out a fire safety audit of dedicated COVID hospitals across the country to avoid any fire incidents at the facilities.
The court asked all COVID-19 designated hospitals to take a no-objection certificate (NOC) from the fire department within four weeks and warned of stringent action if the hospitals fail to get it.
"Those hospitals, whose fire NOC has expired, will have to get it renewed within four weeks," a bench headed by Justice Ashok Bhushan said.
The court said that all states will abide by the COVID guidelines, including wearing of face masks and following social distancing norms.
The court also said that the issue of political rallies and following of COVID guidelines in such gatherings will be regulated 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 lost their lives.
"The (dedicated COVID-19) hospitals which have not gone for the renewal for fire NOC should get it renewed within four weeks and action be taken if the renewal has not been obtained," the bench said, adding that "the hospitals which have not taken fire NOC should immediately go for it."
The court said that every state needs to appoint a nodal officer to ensure that there are no fire incidents at hospitals.
The SC cited the issue of fire incident at a COVID facility in Rajkot while hearing a suo motu case on the proper treatment of COVID-19 patients and handling of bodies in hospitals.
While hearing the case on December 15, the bench had asked the Centre to consider giving break to doctors engaged in COVID duty for the last seven-eight months, saying continuous work will affect the mental health of doctors.
On December 9, the court had sought a "detailed" response from the government as well as states on issues including adherence to COVID guidelines and implementation of fire safety guidelines in hospitals and nursing homes.