Supreme Court Sets Up National Task Force For Covid-19 Pandemic Response
Empty oxygen cylinders are stacked in a facility at Naidu Hospital in Pune. (Photographer: Dhiraj Singh/Bloomberg)

Supreme Court Sets Up National Task Force For Covid-19 Pandemic Response

The Supreme Court has set up a 12-member national task force to improve the public health response to the brutal second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The task force's terms of reference include addressing issues relating to oxygen supply to different states, suggesting measures to ensure availability of essential medicines, and optimising the use of available manpower, according to an order passed by a bench of Justice DY Chandrachud and Justice MR Shah.

The committee has been asked to commence work immediately and will have a tenure of six months. The cabinet secretary will be the convenor, while the union health secretary will be an ex-officio member of the task force.

The top court bench has asked the central government, state governments, and other agencies to provide complete and real-time data for facilitating the work of the task force.

The rationale for constituting a task force at a national level is to facilitate a public health response to the pandemic based on scientific and specialised domain knowledge. We expect that the leading experts in the country shall associate with the work of the task force both as members and resource persons.
Supreme Court Order

India reported over 4,000 coronavirus deaths on Saturday amid an unprecedented shortage of oxygen supply across various hospitals in the country.

Also read: India’s Vaccine Drive For 18-44 Year Olds: Six States Cross 1 Lakh Doses Mark

Task Force's Terms Of Reference Include:

  • Formulating the methodology for the allocation of medical oxygen to the states and union territories.
  • Making recommendations on augmenting the available supplies of oxygen.
  • Suggesting measures necessary for ensuring the availability of essential drugs and medicines.
  • Ensuring that the available manpower is optimised for providing expert medical care to rural areas.
  • Aid in creating incentives to augment the availability of trained doctors and other medical staff.

The apex court has directed the central government to continue with the present methodology for providing oxygen, in line with relevant court orders, till the task force submits its recommendations.

The top court will take up the case next on May 17.

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