What is 1897 Epidemic Act that Centre wants states to invoke to tackle coronavirus
As the number of coronavirus cases rises to over 60 in India, the Central government on Wednesday decided that all states should be advised to invoke the necessary provisions of the Epidemic Disease Act, 1897 to enforce all advisories.
According to an official statement, at a review meeting held by Cabinet Secretary Rajiv Gauba, it was decided that all states/UTs should be advised by the Union Health Ministry to invoke provisions of Section 2 of Epidemic Disease Act so that all advisories being issued from time to time are enforceable.
What is Section 2 of the 1897 Act?
It gives the power to take special measures and prescribe regulations as to dangerous epidemic disease. Under the act, temporary provisions or regulations can be made to be observed by the public to tackle or prevent the outbreak of a disease.
It may also give authorities the power to inspect “persons travelling by railway or otherwise, and the segregation, in hospital, temporary accommodation or otherwise, of persons suspected by the inspecting officer of being infected with any such disease”.
Also read: What to do when you suspect coronavirus
The act says, “The Central Government may take measures and prescribe regulations for the inspection of any ship or vessel leaving or arriving at any port in 2 [the territories to which this act extends] and for such detention thereof, or of any person intending to sail therein, or arriving thereby, as may be necessary.]”.
The 1897 Act is invoked when the authorities assess “that the ordinary provisions of the law for the time being in force are insufficient for the purpose, may take, or require or empower any person to take, such measures and, by public notice, prescribe such temporary regulations to be observed by the public or by any person or class of persons as 9 [it] shall deem necessary to prevent the outbreak of such disease or the spread thereof, and may determine in what manner and by whom any expenses incurred (including compensation if any) shall be defrayed,” the act reads.
The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has stated that there is no need for all individuals to get screened for coronavirus as the level of community transmission in the country is not there currently.
The health ministry in its release on ‘Covid-19 testing strategy’ stated that not all individuals need to be screened for coronavirus.
According to the ministry, there has been no community transmission of Covid-19 in the country currently, therefore “all individuals need not be screened”.
“The disease is primarily reported in individuals with travel history to the affected countries or close contacts of positive cases,” the release read.
Those with a travel history to any of the coronavirus-affected nations or individuals who were in close contact with the ones affected by the virus should stay under a 14-day self-quarantine and get tested for the infection.
In addition to this, “all individuals evacuated and quarantined from Wuhan, China and Diamond Princess ship, Japan should be screened for novel coronavirus,” a press release by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) read.
(With inputs from IANS)