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‘CURFEW-LIKE’ RESTRICTIONS ENFORCED ACROSS STATE OF KARNATAKA

Why in news?

Scaling up the precautionary measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19, the Karnataka government on 23rd March 2020, enforced “curfew-like” restrictions across the State from 24th March 2020, and will be in force till March 31 2020.

Details

  • All public and private transport including Uber, Ola and autos will be off the road, while only essential services will be available across the State.
  • The government, which had initially announced restrictions only in nine districts that had reported COVID-19 cases, later revised the order to cover the entire State.
  • The government has enforced this under Epidemic Disease Act, 1981, making more stringent the guidelines put in place earlier.

Concerns in the State of Karnataka

  • Karnataka State Government Medical Education Minister had expressed concern that despite declaration of lockdown, people were not completely confining themselves indoors.
  • This would increase the chances of the spread of the virus, he observed, while pointing out that so far the State had reported 33 positive cases of COVID-19.

Measures taken by the Karnataka Government to control the COVID-19 Spread

  • Only services and activities related to health, medicine, agriculture, and grocery would be allowed to operate in these districts, the Minister said.
  • Similarly, industries would be asked to ensure that only 50% of their workforce were deployed for work.
  • Government and private offices would be classified as “essential” and “non-essential” services depending upon the nature of operation and only those in the essential sector would be allowed to operate.
  • The government had decided to strictly quarantine and test all those who had come in contact with the COVID-19 patients.
  • It had been decided to test at least 200 people for a population of 10 lakh, he said.
  • To facilitate this, licences would be granted to more number of government and private labs.
  • The government would obtain the services of police in keeping a vigil on the C-category international travellers who have been home quarantined.
  • The family members of such persons would also be quarantined and the police would be instructed to paste notices on their houses and also inform locals about it.
  • A vigilance team comprising senior IAS officers had been formed to monitor the situation.
Machine generated alternative text:
Nearly 36% of all COVID•19 cases in India have emerged from just Kerala and 
COVID-19 
Maharashtra. These two States, which have lately seen an exponential rise in cases, 
states has recorded the most no. of cases among districts. By Sumant Sen and Vignesh R 
Case progression in States I Of 36 States/U.T.s, 23 have 
registered at least one case. The chart shows the day-wise 
progression of COVID•19 cases since the first case in each State 
District-wise cases I According to the latest 
but undated data available with the Union Health 
Min•stry, 87 districts recorded at least one case. 
The map shows the cases recorded in these districts. 
The darker the shade, the higher the no. Of cases. 
The district data are unclear, however. For instance, 
under the IJ.T. of J&K, a district named "Kashmir" has 
been listed. However, Kashm•r region has 10 different 
districts. In Karnataka, a district named "Bangalore" 
is listed. It is unclear whether the numbers pertain 
to Bengaluru city or to the rural parts (Bengaluru 
Urban is a separate district). Also there is no time 
stamp for the data 
CASES 
0 CZIii— 26 
90 Gujarat 
recorded its 
first case 
later than 
70 
many States 
but has 
seen a sharp 
50 
Increase 
30 
Karnat 
10 
T e num r cases In Kera 
before a surge 
middling 
Maharashtra is 
on a steeper curve 
Telangana 
Delhi 
Ladakh 
38 
46 
30 
54 
Gurugram 
18 
Hyderabad 
18 
Source: 
Health 
Min •stries 
of States 
22 
6 
14 
Days since 1st case 
Mumbai 
20 
Pune 
26 
Kasatagod 
15 
Testing rates I The data for samples tested were available for 
only some States. Among them, Kerala leads by a huge margin, 
while West Bengal has tested the least number Of samples 
Kerala 
Karnataka 
Maharashtra 
Tamil Nadu 
Gujarat 
Andhra Pradesh 
West Bengal 
4,035 
1,387 
1,666 
552 
422 
178 
128 
Test data 
March 22 
March 22 
March 22 
March 23 
March 23 
March 23 
March 22 
Tests per lakh 
population 
11.38 
2.08 
1.37 
0.72 
0.65 
0.33 
0.13

A Colonial Era Legislation: Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897

  • One of India’s primary weapons against the Covid-19 pandemic is a 123-year-old colonial legislation, once used to imprison freedom fighters.
  • The Epidemic Diseases Act of 1897 gives special powers to state governments.
  • This law enables states to ban public gatherings, ask schools and large institutions to stop functioning, and issue advisories to companies to explore work-from-home models.
  • It also gives the state a right to penalise media organisations spreading misinformation.
  • The law is one of India’s last colonial-era legislations.
  • The Act of 1897 was enacted on Feb. 4, 1897, to stop the spread of the bubonic plague outbreak in Bombay (now Mumbai).
  • It gave the British government in India powers to restrict people from gathering in large numbers.
  • The legislation simply states its objective as “better prevention of the spread of dangerous epidemic disease.”
  • It also allows the central government to “take measures and prescribe regulations for the inspection of any ship or vessel leaving or arriving at any port in (the territories to which this Act extends).”

Has the Act been use Recently?

  • The law was last used in 2018 to prevent the spread of cholera in a Gujarat village.
  • It has also been invoked in cases of dengue and malaria in 2015 in Chandigarh and H1N1 influenza in 2009 in Pune.

Can the Act be Misused?

  • While it helps contain epidemics, the Act can also be misused.
  • In 1897, for instance, freedom fighter Bal Gangadhar Tilak was imprisoned for 18 months under this Act for his newspaper Kesari‘s anti-establishment coverage of the plague, according to The Indian Express newspaper.
  • In a 2013 paper, medical scholars Binod K Patro, Jaya Prasad Tripathy, and Rashmi Kashyap questioned the efficacy of the Act, given its vague language and non-specific definitions.
  • “Epidemic Act 1897 is silent on the definition of dangerous epidemic disease. Apart from isolation or quarantine measures, the Act is mum on the legal framework of availability and distribution of vaccine and drugs and implementation of response measures.
  • There is no explicit reference pertaining to the ethical aspects or human rights principles during a response to an epidemic,” they observed.
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