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Indian Express 12th March 2020

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1) Explained: Govt invokes Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897 to fight coronavirus; what is it?

The Epidemic Diseases Act is routinely enforced across the country for dealing with outbreaks of diseases such as swine flu, dengue, and cholera.

The colonial government introduced the Act to tackle the epidemic of bubonic plague that had spread in the erstwhile Bombay Presidency in the 1890s.

In 1897, the year the law was enforced, freedom fighter Bal Gangadhar Tilak was punished with 18 months’ rigorous imprisonment after his newspapers Kesari and Mahratta admonished imperial authorities for their handling of the plague epidemic.

The Act, which consists of four sections, aims to provide “for the better prevention of the spread of Dangerous Epidemic Diseases.”

Section 2 empowers state governments/UTs to take special measures and formulate regulations for containing the outbreak. It reads:

“Power to take special measures and prescribe regulations as to dangerous epidemic disease.—

(1) When at any time the State Government is satisfied that the State or any part thereof is visited by, or threatened with, an outbreak of any dangerous epidemic disease, the State Government, if it thinks 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 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.

(2) In particular and without prejudice to the generality of the foregoing provisions, the State Government may take measures and prescribe regulations for

(b) the inspection of 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.”

Section 3 provides penalties for disobeying any regulation or order made under the Act. These are according to section 188 of the Indian Penal Code (Disobedience to order duly promulgated by public servant).

Section 4 gives legal protection to the implementing officers acting under the Act.

Examples of implementation

In 2018, the district collector of Gujarat’s Vadodara issued a notification under the Act declaring the Khedkarmsiya village in Waghodia taluka as cholera-affected after 31 persons complained of symptoms of the disease.

In 2015, to deal with malaria and dengue in Chandigarh, the Act was implemented and controlling officers were instructed to ensure the issuance of notices and challans of Rs 500 to offenders.

2)The coronavirus dictionary: The meanings to words you are hearing a lot

Pandemic:- World Health Organization declared the coronavirus outbreak a pandemic after it spread across six continents and more than 100 countries. A pandemic is the worldwide spread of a new disease that affects large numbers of people.

Epidemic:- An epidemic is a regional outbreak of an illness that spreads unexpectedly, according to the WHO. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention defines it as an increase, often sudden, in the number of cases of a disease above normal expectations in a set population.

COVID-19:-The technical name for the coronavirus is SARS-CoV-2. The respiratory disease it causes has been named the “coronavirus disease 2019,” or COVID-19.

Incubation:-

The incubation period is the time it takes for symptoms to appear after a person is infected. This time can be critical for prevention and control, and it allows health officials to quarantine or observe people who may have been exposed to the virus.

The new coronavirus has an incubation period of two to 14 days, according to the CDC, with symptoms appearing about five days after infection in most cases.

Social distancing:-The virus can easily spread in dense places — in a packed subway car, for example, or at a rally or concert.

Social distancing refers to measures that are taken to increase the physical space between people to slow the spread of the virus. Examples include working from home, school closures and the postponement or cancellation of mass gatherings, such as the South by Southwest music, technology and film conference.

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