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COVID-19 AND SCOPE OF DISASTER MANAGEMENT ACT 2005

Recently, the World Health Organization (WHO) has characterized COVID-19 also known as CORONA VIRUS as a pandemic. COVID-19 is spread via airborne droplets (sneeze and cough) or contact with the surface. It is possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or an object that has the virus on it and then touching their own nose, eyes or mouth.

Recently, the World Health Organization (WHO) has characterized COVID-19 also known as CORONA VIRUS as a pandemic. COVID-19 is spread via airborne droplets (sneeze and cough) or contact with the surface. It is possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or an object that has the virus on it and then touching their own nose, eyes or mouth.

Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is defined as illness caused by a novel coronavirus now called severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2; formerly called 2019-nCoV), which was first identified amid an outbreak of respiratory illness cases in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China.  It was initially reported to the WHO on December 31, 2019. On January 30, 2020, the WHO declared the COVID-19 outbreak a global health emergency.  On March 11, 2020, the WHO declared COVID-19 a global pandemic. Due to this disease being declared globally pandemic many countries have faced economic crises. The countries are facing not only a financial crises in stock market but also in worldwide economy as a whole.

This article will talk about what corona virus is, what are its symptoms and effects, what can be done in order to prevent it and lastly what role does the government plays in enactment of laws in times of this pandemic.

INTRODUCTION

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that are actually common throughout the world and can cause respiratory illness in people and animals. There are several known coronaviruses that infect people and usually only cause mild respiratory disease, such as common cold.

Coronavirus (COVID-19) is a new strain of coronavirus that had previously not been identified in humans. They key features of COVID-19 are respiratory symptoms with a fever and cough. COVID-19 affects different people in different ways. Most infected people will develop mild to moderate illness and recover without hospitalization. This new virus and disease were unknown before the outbreak began in Wuhan, China, in December 2019. COVID-19 is now a pandemic affecting many countries globally.

SYMPTOMS OF COVID-19:

The most common symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, dry cough, and tiredness. Other symptoms that are less common and may affect some patients include aches and pains, nasal congestion, headache, conjunctivitis, sore throat, diarrhea, loss of taste or smell or a rash on skin or discoloration of fingers or toes. These symptoms are usually mild and begin gradually. Some people become infected but only have very mild symptoms.

Most people (about 80%) recover from the disease without needing hospital treatment. Around 1 out of every 5 people who gets COVID-19 becomes seriously ill and develops difficulty breathing. Older people, and those with underlying medical problems like high blood pressure, heart and lung problems, diabetes, or cancer, are at higher risk of developing serious illness.  However, anyone can catch COVID-19 and become seriously ill.  People of all ages who experience fever and/or cough associated with difficulty in breathing/shortness of breath, chest pain/pressure, or loss of speech or movement should seek medical attention immediately. If possible, it is recommended to call the health care provider or facility first, so the patient can be directed to the right clinic.

People can catch COVID-19 from others who have the virus. The disease spreads primarily from person to person through small droplets from the nose or mouth, which are expelled when a person with COVID-19 coughs, sneezes, or speaks. These droplets are relatively heavy, do not travel far and quickly sink to the ground. People can catch COVID-19 if they breathe in these droplets from a person infected with the virus.  This is why it is important to stay at least 1 meter away from others. These droplets can land on objects and surfaces around the person such as tables, doorknobs and handrails.  People can become infected by touching these objects or surfaces, then touching their eyes, nose or mouth.  This is why it is important to wash your hands regularly with soap and water or clean with alcohol-based hand rub.

PRECAUTIONS:

Self-isolation is an important measure taken by those who have COVID-19 symptoms to avoid infecting others in the community, including family members.

Self-isolation is when a person who is experiencing fever, cough or other COVID-19 symptoms stays at home and does not go to work, school or public places. This can be voluntarily or based on his/her health care provider’s recommendation. However, if you live in an area with malaria or dengue fever it is important that you do not ignore symptoms of fever. Seek medical help. When you attend the health facility wear a mask if possible, keep at least 1 metre distant from other people and do not touch surfaces with your hands. If it is a child who is sick help the child stick to this advice.

If you do not live in an area with malaria or dengue fever please do the following:

–  If a person is in self-isolation, it is because he/she is ill but not severely ill (requiring medical attention)

  • have a large, well-ventilated with hand-hygiene and toilet facilities
  • If this is not possible, place beds at least 1 metre apart
  • Keep at least 1 metre from others, even from your family members
  • Monitor your symptoms daily
  • Isolate for 14 days, even if you feel healthy
  • If you develop difficulty breathing, contact your healthcare provider immediately – call them first if possible
  • Stay positive and energized by keeping in touch with loved ones by phone or online, and by exercising yourself at home.

 

Practicing hand and respiratory hygiene is important at ALL times and is the best way to protect others and yourself.

When possible maintain at least a 1 meter distance between yourself and others. This is especially important if you are standing by someone who is coughing or sneezing.  Since some infected persons may not yet be exhibiting symptoms or their symptoms may be mild, maintaining a physical distance with everyone is a good idea if you are in an area where COVID-19 is circulating. 

GOVERNMENTAL LAWS:

  • DISIASTER MANAGEMENT ACT 2005:
  • THE EPIDEMIC DISEASES ACT 1897

 

The Disaster Management Act, 2005

The Disaster Management Act was enacted to tackle disasters at both Central and State government levels.

Section (2) defines a disaster as a “catastrophe, mishap, calamity or grave occurrence in any area, arising from natural or man-made causes”.

On March 14, the Central Government termed COVID-19 as a ‘notified disaster’ as a “critical medical condition or pandemic situation”

The Act enables the Centre and States to enforce a lockdown and restrict public movement. It allows the Government to get access to the National Disaster Response Fund, the
State Disaster Response Fund and the District Disaster Response Fund. It also has provisions for allocation of resources for prevention, mitigation, capacity building etc.

The Penalties

Sections 51 to 60 of the Act prescribes the penalties for the violators.

The Law describes the offence as obstructing any officer or employee from performing their duty or refusing to comply with directions.

Violators can be jailed for up to 1 year or fine, or both.

In the case of dangerous behaviour, the jail term can be extended to two years.

Section 144 of IPC

Along with these two Acts, several state governments are also invoking Section 144 of the Indian Penal Code. This prohibits a gathering of four or more people in a particular area. By using this provision, the administration aims to control crowding and prevent the spread of the virus.

The Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897

One of the shortest legislation in India, The Epidemic Diseases Act has four sections. It is aimed at ‘providing for better prevention of the spread of Dangerous Epidemic Diseases.’

The act was first enacted in the British colonial era primarily to control the Bubonic Plague outbreak in the late 1800s. It has remained relevant ever since.

Section 2A of the Act allows the Centre to prescribe regulations to inspect any ship or vessel leaving or arriving in any port and to detain any person planning to leave or arrive into India.

The government’s decisions on restricting international and domestic travel to and from India fall under the provisions of this Act.

The Act also empowers State Governments under Section 2(1) to prescribe regulations with respect to any person or group of people to contain the spread of COVID-19.

Penalty

Section 3 of the Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897 gives the penalties for violating the regulations. Section 188 of the Indian Penal Code states that it will be six months imprisonment or Rs 1000 fine or both.

 

Conclusion:

The government is trying their level best in order to protect the citizens of the country. It is our duty also to protect each one of us from this virus. If we adhere to all the precautions and take proper measures we can defeat this virus. If we stay at our homes and only go out when it is necessary we can become a step closer in defeating this virus and saving millions of lives. 

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