Coronavirus | States to be asked to invoke Epidemic Disease Act: Centre

High-level meet reviews steps to tackle COVID-19

March 11, 2020 11:11 pm | Updated March 12, 2020 09:41 am IST - NEW DELHI

Precautionary steps: Medical personnel checking tourists at the Junagarh fort in Bikaner on Wednesday, March 11, 2020.

Precautionary steps: Medical personnel checking tourists at the Junagarh fort in Bikaner on Wednesday, March 11, 2020.

“It has been decided that all States/Union Territories should be advised to invoke provisions of Section 2 of the Epidemic Disease Act, 1897 so that all advisories being issued from time to time by the Ministry/State/UTs are enforceable,” Health Secretary Preeti Sudan said on Wednesday, after a meeting of a high-level Group of Ministers here. The GoM was constituted to review, monitor and evaluate the preparedness and measures taken regarding the management of COVID-19 in India .

Also read | India suspends all tourist visas till April 15

Ms. Sudan added that as a measure of prevention, it is reiterated that as per the travel advisory, passengers with travel history to China, Hong Kong, Republic of Korea, Japan, Italy, Thailand, Singapore, Iran, Malaysia, France, Spain and Germany should undergo self-imposed quarantine for 14 days from the date of their arrival, and their employers should facilitate work-from-home for such employees during this period.


The meeting was also attended by Secretaries and other senior officials of the relevant Ministries/Departments. “The Cabinet Secretary also took a meeting with Secretaries of the concerned Ministries, representatives from the Army, the ITBP [Indo-Tibetan Border Police],” said the Health Ministry.

IMA’s appeal

Meanwhile, the Indian Medical Association (IMA) has said that sharing data of infected people on a daily basis with the public has created panic across the country. It appealed to the government to “classify the data” of the pandemic and take appropriate action with “clinical precision.”

Also read | COVID-19 is now a pandemic, says WHO | What is a pandemic?

In a release, the association has noted that doctors and hospitals remain a silver lining in otherwise clueless situation for the common man and every doctor should function as a source of credible information in their locality and instil confidence and trust in the public.

WHO guidance

The International Federation of the Red Cross (IFRC), UNICEF and the World Health Organization (WHO) have issued new guidance to help protect children and schools from transmission of the coronavirus.

“The guidance provides critical considerations and practical checklists to keep schools safe. It also advises national and local authorities on how to adapt and implement emergency plans for educational facilities,” the release said.

The release noted that in the event of the school closures, the guidance includes recommendations to mitigate against the possible negative impacts on children’s learning and well being. “This means having solid plans in place to ensure the continuity of learning, including remote learning options such as online education strategies and radio broadcasts of academic content, and access to essential services for all children. These plans should also include necessary steps for the eventual safe reopening of schools.”

Also read: COVID-19 | Interactive map of confirmed coronavirus cases in India | ‘Heat is not a deterrent for transmission’: Your COVID-19 queries answered

It added that where schools remain open, to make sure that children and their families remain protected and informed, the guidance includes — providing children with information about how to protect themselves, promoting best handwashing and hygiene practices and providing hygiene supplies, cleaning and disinfecting school buildings, especially water and sanitation facilities; and increasing airflow and ventilation.

The group added that the guidance, while specific to countries that have already confirmed the transmission of COVID-19, is still relevant in all other contexts.

“Education can encourage students to become advocates for disease prevention and control at home, in school, and in their community by talking to others about how to prevent the spread of viruses. Maintaining safe school operations or reopening schools after a closure, requires many considerations, but if done well, can promote public health,” the guidance said.

Tips for parents

The new guidance also offers helpful tips and checklists for parents and caregivers, as well as children and students themselves. These actions include monitoring children’s health and keeping them home from school if they are ill, encouraging children to ask questions and express their concerns and coughing or sneezing into a tissue or elbow and avoid touching face, eyes, mouth and nose.

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