The Supreme Court on Friday directed all states to conduct fire safety audits of dedicated coronavirus hospitals across the country to prevent fire incidents, reported PTI. The court said that each state must appoint a nodal officer to ensure that there is no repeat of fire incidents in hospitals.

The court also asked the Covid-19 hospitals to get a no-objection certificate from the fire department within four weeks, saying that failure to do so would attract punitive action. “The [dedicated Covid-19] hospitals that 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 of Justices Ashok Bhushan, RS Reddy and MR Shah said.

The court directed states to file a compliance report within four weeks. The court also asked the Centre to frame a guideline or devise a mechanism to give rotational breaks to doctors and healthcare staff, who have been working continuously since April, The Times of India reported.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, representing the Centre, told the court the government would take a decision on the matter within two days.

The Supreme Court had on November 27 taken cognisance of a fire at a Covid hospital in Rajkot, in which five patients had died. The incident had cropped up during the hearing on another suo motu case on the proper treatment of Covid-19 patients and the dignified handling of bodies in hospitals. Calling the Rajkot fire “shocking”, the court had stated it was not the first such incident at a designated hospital to treat coronavirus patients and rebuked the state government for not taking adequate precautions.

Before the fire in Rajkot, eight coronavirus patients had died in a blaze at a private Covid-19 designated hospital in Ahmedabad in August.