New Delhi, November 30: After two incidents of fire at hospitals in Gujarat, the Centre asked states and union territories to take "utmost precaution", especially when India is fighting COVID-19. Union Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla on Monday wrote to chief secretaries of states and union territories, expressing concerns over non-compliance of fire safety measures in hospitals especially amid the COVID-19 pandemic. 5 Doctors Named in Rajkot COVID-19 Hospital Fire.

"I would like to draw your attention towards the occurrence of fire incidents in hospitals/nursing homes in the recent past. Non-adherence of fire safety measures by authorities is a matter of concern," Ajay Bhalla stated in his letter. Six COVID-19 patients died in the fire at Rajkot's Uday Shivanand hospital on November 27. In Agust, the fire at Shreya hospital ICU in Ahmedabad had left eight coronavirus patients dead. PM Narendra Modi Expresses Grief Over Death of Five People in Rajkot Fire Incident, Ensures All Possible Support From Administration.

"Recently 6 precious lives of COVID-19 patients were lost in a fire incident in ICU ward of a hospital in Rajkot and 8 lives were lost in a hospital in Ahmedabad. When India is fighting against COVID-19, utmost precaution needs to be taken to avoid such incidents," Bhalla wrote.

The Home Secretary asked chief secretaries to ensure compliance of advisories issued by the Ministry of Home Ministry and direct officials concerned to re-inspect/re-check all hospitals/nursing homes from the point of view of fire protection and means of escape. The Gujarat government has announced that retired Gujarat High Court Judge KA Punj will probe both the fire incidents.

On November 27, the Supreme Court called the fire incident in Rajkot hospital a "wakeup call" for serious action to prevent any more such incidents. Expressing anguish over the incident, a bench headed by Justice Ashok Bhushan and comprising Justices R Subhash Reddy and M R Shah termed it "shocking", and said that the Gujarat government must be answerable and there can't just be an inquiry and report.

(The above story first appeared on LatestLY on Nov 30, 2020 01:30 PM IST. For more news and updates on politics, world, sports, entertainment and lifestyle, log on to our website