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Coronavirus: Calcutta HC issues directives on curbing spread of disease in children protection homes

A view of the Calcutta High Court in Kolkata. File

A view of the Calcutta High Court in Kolkata. File   | Photo Credit: The Hindu

The Bench also said that the government must take care of the children of the migrant labourers and migrant families who arrived in the State since the outbreak of COVID-19

Hearing a suo motu petition on the steps taken to protect children lodged in protection homes of West Bengal from the outbreak of COVID-19, the Calcutta High Court on Wednesday issued a number of directives to the State government to release the children to their respective families as far as feasible.

An order by the division Bench of Justices Harish Tandon and Soumen Sen stated that the Superintendent attached to each homes shall monitor each child and upon noticing any symptom of COVID-19 shall take immediate steps to isolate the child and report the matter to the Chief Medical Officer of Health (CMOH) of the district.

The order directs that “any child produced for the first time whether before CWC (Child Welfare Committees) or JJB (Juvenile Justice Boards ) and required to be sent on CCIs (Child Care Institutions) or any other Homes, should be first put in isolation to complete the quarantine period before being allowed to interact with the children of such home”.

The Court also directed that periodic visits shall be made by the Health Department to ensure proper health and hygiene of the children and video conferencing and special online sittings should be ensured in JJBs, CWCs and Children Homes.

The Bench also took on the exodus of migrants and pointed out that “children of the said migrants may be in need of care and protection”.

“The government must take care of the children of the migrant labourers and migrant families arrived in the State since the outbreak of COVID-19 and shall identify the children who may be considered as CNCP (children in need of care and protection)”

Appearing for the State, advocate general Kishore Dutta said that maintaining social distance and personal hygiene, including hand washing, had been introduced in all the CCIs. The advocate general said that food and other stocks were adequate in the CCIs.

‘Let compassion go viral’

In West Bengal, there are 51 NGO-run CCIs which are government-aided and 19 government-run CCIs. The court observed that a “time has come when we have to make compassion go viral in the months ahead, so that together we weather the storm and emerge stronger. The children need our compassion, attention and support”.

Directing the Principal Secretary, Department of Women and Child Development and Social Welfare and the Principal Secretary, Health Department, government of West Bengal to file a comprehensive report with regard to the steps taken in terms of the directions passed by the Supreme Court on April 3, 2020 and the order passed by the Bench on Wednesday, the court adjourned the matter till April 21 for consideration of reports.

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Printable version | May 26, 2020 7:37:00 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/coronavirus-calcutta-hc-issues-directives-on-curbing-spread-of-disease-in-children-protection-homes/article31297799.ece

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