New Delhi: Hearing a petition on coronavirus cases in the country, Supreme Court on Wednesday issued interim directions to the Centre, saying the tests related to COVID-19 — whether in approved government laboratories or private labs — shall be conducted for free. The apex court asked the Centre to issue necessary directions in this regard immediately. Also Read - Ensure Free COVID-19 Tests in Some Private Laboratories, Supreme Court Asks Centre

The top court also stated that the tests related to COVID-19 must be carried out in National Accreditation Board for Testing and Calibration Laboratories (NABL) accredited labs or any agencies approved by WHO or ICMR. Also Read - Amid Lockdown, Supreme Court Issues Notice to Centre on Plea Seeking Payment of Wages to Migrant Workers

The top court passed the direction to the Centre after hearing the petition filed by lawyer Shashank Deo Sudhi. Also Read - ‘Inspiring Gesture’: PM Modi Thanks Supreme Court Judges For Contributing to PM-CARES Fund

The top court took note of the various incidents in different parts of the country where medical staff and doctors were attacked and misbehaved with. Taking the matter into consideration, the court said such incidents are bound to instill a sense of insecurity in doctors and medical staff.

Hearing the matter, the court directed that it is duty of state and the police administration to provide necessary security at all places where patients who have been diagnosed coronavirus positive or who have been quarantined are housed and places where medical staff visit for screening of people.

Earlier in the day, the apex court said that the doctors and healthcare professionals are warriors in fight against coronavirus and have to be protected.

Hearing another plea, the top court said that the Centre should create a mechanism to solicit suggestions from people about how to go ahead on the issues related to COVID-19, including on providing treatment.

Hearing three petitions through video-conferencing, a bench of Justices Ashok Bhushan and S Ravindra Bhat was informed by the Centre that PPE kits and other requisite things are being arranged and it is taking steps in this regard.

During the hearing, the bench told the Centre, “Why do you not create a mechanism at district level where nodal officers can be appointed to get suggestions from all persons?”.

Appearing for one of the petitioners, senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi told the bench that he appreciates the stand of the Solicitor General but doctors are afraid and if medical professionals would not come forward, things would collapse.