As the Centre invoked Epidemic Act, 1897 on Wednesday and also asked states to adopt provisions of section 2 of the Act, here is an explainer on what exactly does it mean:
Why is the Epidemic Act invoked?
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.”
What is Section 2 of the 1897 Act?
It gives the state 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”.
What could be the practical repercussions for individuals under the Act?
If the state feels that a person should be tested for the infection or should be isolated or quarantined to prevent others from infection, they can be forced to undergo the test or be quarantined even without their consent.
Has the Act ever been invoked in the past?
There are several past instances when the Act has been imposed centrally or locally. These include SARS and MERS outbreaks, H1N1 pandemic and in case of Zika and Nipah outbreaks in Rajasthan and Kerala more recently.
Army recruitment rallies postponed
The Indian Army has postponed all recruitment rallies by a month, and has asked its personnel to travel only for essential duties. They have also been advised to choose video-conference facilities instead of travel. Command headquarters have been instructed to establish adequate quarantine facilities at several locations.
Indian medical team in Italy
A medical team from India reached Italy on Friday to test stranded Indian nationals for the coronavirus so that they can be brought back. The Indian mission in Rome said it was working actively with the Indian government and local authorities in Italy. It was also in touch with stranded Indians in Rome, communicating and providing regular updates.
No shortage of drugs ingredients
The National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA) has been assured by pharma industry body IDMA there is no shortage of active pharma ingredients and formulations in India due to coronavirus outbreak, the Rajya Sabha was informed. NPPA has not received any reference from pharma associations regarding steep rise in price of medicines.
No entry at Wagah border
Any foreign national will not be allowed to enter India from Pakistan through the Attari-Wagah border from Friday evening onwards, a senior BSF official said. Indian nationals who had gone across the border would be allowed to come back before their visas expire. The movement of pilgrims through the Kartarpur Corridor will continue, though.