Gujarat govt notifies coronavirus as an epidemic

Coronavirus: Gujarat government issues epidemic disease notification

An employee wearing a facemask amid concerns of the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus in Gujarat. (Credit: AFP)

The Gujarat government has issued a notification declaring coronavirus  as an epidemic disease under the Indian Epidemic Act, 1897, empowering certain officials to take action against classified cases as part of preventive measures.

The notification called Gujarat Epidemic Diseases, COVID-19 Regulations, 2020 will remain in force for a period of one year, said an official.

Track live updates on the coronavirus here

The regulations grant powers to officers such as commissioner (health), municipal commissioners, district collectors and chief district health officers, among others, to deal with cases related to coronavirus, said Principal Secretary (Health) Jayanti Ravi.

The state also banned conferences, seminars and workshops till March 31, and appealed to the public to avoid large gathering and postpone any such events till March 31, she said.

"We have issued notification under Indian Epidemic Act, 1897. This does not mean there is any epidemic. Government officers like collector, chief district health officers, DDOs, municipal commissioners, etc. have been granted power to act on cases related to coronavirus, to ensure no cases of leave against advice comes up, and patients are forced to stay in quarantine even when they say no," Ravi informed.

As per the regulations, district administration has been empowered to seal the geographical area from where coronavirus has been reported, bar entry and exit of the population in that area, close schools, offices, ban vehicular movement, isolate suspected cases in hospital, among others.

The regulations also require a person with a history of travel to the country or area from where coronavirus case has been reported to isolate himself at home, and in case he refuses admission or isolation, the authorised persons will have the power "to forcefully admit, retain, keep and isolate him for a period of 14 days from the onset of symptoms or till the reports of laboratory tests are received".

A man with history of coming in contact with suspected or confirmed cases, or having travelled in countries or areas where coronavirus has been reported, is required to isolate himself at home for 14 days, and report to the nearest government hospital or call toll-free helpline number so that necessary measures, if required, may be taken, stated the notification.

It also requires all government and private hospitals to have flu corners for screening of suspected cases of coronavirus.

Ravi said the state has not reported a single positive coronavirus case as yet.

So far, out of 77 samples tested in the state, 72 have returned negative while those of five are pending, she said.

The government has stocked enough triple-layer masks, and sanitisers, and created 572 isolation beds and 204 ventilators to deal with the coronavirus threat.

As many as 38 quarantine facilities have been created with 1,117 beds.