The Supreme Court on Thursday took suo motu cognisance of news reports from Tamil Nadu, which stated that many children and staff in a government-run home in Chennai have tested positive for the novel coronavirus. The apex court demanded to know what steps were being taken by the Tamil Nadu government to prevent spread of the virus in children's shelters. The SC also put forth more questions to other state governments on how the issue was being handled in their respective states.
On June 6, several media outlets in Chennai reported that 35 children at a government home in Royapuram were infected and that they had been admitted to a government hospital in Tondiarpet. The home had a total of 57 children according to The Hindu and the infection is suspected to have come from a staff member who had tested positive earlier. Following more tests conducted on other children and staff at the home, it was found that a total of 43 children were infected.
As per a report in Times of India, the children were either orphans or belonged to single parents or from economically poor backgrounds. They were lodged in the reception home till the Child Welfare Committee directed the authorities as to where the children should be shifted. Several of the children were also from other states such as West Bengal and Jharkhand. They had been forced into child labour.
According to Livemint however, the Supreme Court bench headed by Justice Nageshwar Rao and comprising Justices Krishna Murari and S Ravindra Bhat directed the state health secretary, Beela Rajesh, to submit a status report on the issue and explain what steps were taken to safeguard the health of children in other such homes.
The court also acknowledged that this could be a larger issue, stretching across other states in the country and has sought responses from all state governments.
The Supreme Court stated that it will be circulating a questionnaire for all state governments and Juvenile Justice Committees of the High Courts across the country and asked that the JJCs ensure that the state governments respond to the questions asked.
The case will be heard next on June 15.