New Delhi, May 8: The Supreme Court on Friday asked the government to consider a plea made by some doctors and nurses, based in Saudi Arabia and all in advanced stages of pregnancy, to be granted “further priority” among pregnant women to be repatriated amid the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown.

“The government shall explore the question of further priority as per the specific cases of the petitioners and shall take appropriate steps,” a three-judge Bench led by Justice Ashok Bhushan ordered, The Hindu reported.

The government, represented by Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, argued that a standard operating protocol was already in place and pregnant women were being given priority. But senior advocate Indira Jaising and advocate Jose Abraham, for the petitioners, pressed that their clients were vulnerable and should be considered for immediate evacuation.

The petition had also sought directions to the Embassy of India, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, to take appropriate measure to ensure that the petitioners have access to proper medical facilities till they were repatriated to India. Lack of medical facilities would be fatal, the petition said.

The plea had said the petitioners had planned to return to India on various dates in the month of March and April for their delivery, but their tickets were cancelled due to closure of airports in India for flights from abroad.

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