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Coronavirus: Tamil Nadu opens door to forcible hospitalisation, empowers collectors to seal areas to prevent outbreak

The order was passed by invoking powers from the Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897. The order also bans any private laboratory from taking or testing samples of COVID - 19.

Published: 16th March 2020 03:00 AM  |   Last Updated: 16th March 2020 04:27 PM   |  A+A-

City Corporation worker spraying disinfectant to prevent the spreading of Coronavirus inside the collectorate premesis in Coimbatore

City Corporation worker spraying disinfectant to prevent the spreading of Coronavirus inside the collectorate premesis in Coimbatore. (Photo | U Rakesh Kumar, EPS)

By Express News Service

CHENNAI: The Health Department on Sunday passed a rare order, Tamil Nadu COVID-19 Regulations, 2020, empowering State officials to forcibly hospitalise or isolate any person to prevent the spread of COVID - 19.

It also empowers district collectors to even seal a geographical area like a ward, village, town or city, if cases of COVID-19 are reported from that particular area.

This includes barring entry and exit of people from the sealed area. The order was passed by invoking powers from the Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897. The order also bans any private laboratory from taking or testing samples of COVID - 19.

The persons who can be forcibly hospitalised or isolated include those who had travelled to any country or area, where COVID-19 has been reported in the last 28 days and those who had a history of coming in contact with anyone suspected or confirmed to be carrying COVID - 19.

The order empowers the officials to hospitalise such persons for a period of 14 days or till the lab test results.

Also, the order requires all persons and institutions to get prior permission from the government before disseminating any information relating to the virus.

Every hospital, including private hospitals, has been mandated to inform all suspected cases of COVID-19 to the city health officer in Chennai district and to the Deputy Director of Health Services in rest of the state.

All hospitals are mandated to maintain rooms or wards exclusively to examine and screen a person suspected of COVID-19. 

Collectors empowered to shut schools 

The hospitals have to collect samples as per the guidelines issued by the government. All persons with a travel history to a country or area where COVID-19 cases are reported in last 28 days, even in case of absence of any symptoms, shall isolate himself in his home for 14 days.

Such persons should avoid contact with their family members too.

As a precautionary measure, any person with a history of travel to an affected country or area in the last 28 days should report himself to the nearest government hospital or call the state helpline numbers or report to the control room at the Directorate of Public Health.

The toll-free helpline number is 104. Control room numbers are 04429510500, 04429510400, 9444340496, 8754448477. District-wise helplines are available in the website: www.tnhealth.tn.gov.in.

ALSO READ | Coronavirus: Tamil Nadu Anganwadi staff to be roped in to isolate workers from Kerala

The district collectors are also empowered to order the closure of schools, offices, or any establishment, ban public gatherings and vehicular movement.

The collectors can also initiate surveillance of people with COVID-19.

The officials from whom prior permission must be obtained before disseminating any information relating to the virus are the Director of Public Health and Preventive Medicine, Director of Medical and Rural Health Services, Director of Medical Education or the District Collectors.

However, it is not clear if patients should get permission to share their experiences relating to COVID - 19 and journalistic work included in this order.

1.74 lakh screened

Media bulletin issued by the Directorate of Public Health said, “Till date, 1,74,880 passengers have been screened at the airports of Chennai, Trichy, Madurai and Coimbatore. Among them, 1,973 passengers are under home quarantine for 28 days and 15 are under hospital isolation. "

“Till now 88 samples have been tested. The samples of 86 passengers were processed and 85 samples tested negative. One sample tested positive for COVID-19 infection, and two samples are under process,” the bulletin said. One COVID-19 positive patient admitted in RGGGH, is stable.

KG, primary schools closed till March 31

CM Edappadi K Palaniswami announced that all kindergarten and primary schools will be closed till March 31. Malls and movie theatres in taluks bordering Kerala, Karnataka and AP will be closed. Puducherry primary schools will also be closed



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