Non-cooperation by suspect patients now a criminal offence

Lt Governor Girish Chandra Murmu has declared COVID-19 as an epidemic in Jammu and Kashmir.

With the declaration, the surveillance personnel have been authorized to enter any premises to check upon a person having symptoms of coronavirus. Moreover, the presence of any suspect patient at a public place has been declared hazardous to public safety.

“Such persons are bound to cooperate and render all possible assistance to facilitate such surveillance, inspection, enquiry and examination,” reads the notification from the Health and Medical Education Department.

If the person is found to be infected with the coronavirus, the surveillance personnel can put them in home quarantine, or escort them to “institutional quarantine facility” or an “isolation facility.”

It has been made mandatory for all the medical officials and practitioners including registered private medical practitioners including AYUSH to notify persons to the concerned district surveillance unit alongwith duly filled up self-declaration forms of persons having travel history to the COVID-19 affected countries.

If any suspected person or confirmed COVID-19 case refuses to take measures for prevention or treatment like home quarantine, or institutional quarantines, the concerned District Magistrates or Additional District Magistrates or Sub Divisional Magistrates or Executive Magistrates in their respective jurisdictions are authorized to take appropriate decision depending upon the circumstances.

“In case of minors, such order shall be directed to the guardian or any other adult member of the minor,” reads the notification, issued following directions from the Lt Governor Girish Chander Murmu in view of emerging situation in Jammu and Kashmir.

Fixing offences, the Government has said that whosoever disobeys an order or obstructs the performance of functions, duties, and responsibility enshrined upon any authority under these regulations, will be deemed to have committed an office under section 188 of Indian Penal Code, 1860 (45 of 1860).

Public entry barred in Civil Secretariat, HoD level offices:

Considering the rise in the number of COVID-19 cases across the world and in the country, Chief Secretary B. V. R. Subrahmanyam reviewed the Cluster Containment Plan to prevent, contain and manage community transmission of infection in Jammu and Kashmir. All Administrative Secretaries, Divisional Commissioner Jammu, Mission Director, National Health Mission (NHM), Deputy Commissioner, Jammu and Commissioner JMC participated in the meeting.

In the meeting, the Cluster Containment strategy and steps required to be taken for its effective implementation were presented by the Financial Commissioner, Health, and discussed in detail. It focuses on containing the disease within a defined geographic area through early detection, breaking the chain of transmission, thus preventing its spread to other areas.

In view of detection of two confirmed, (possibly three) Coronavirus cases in Jammu and measures put in place by the Health Department, it was decided that public entry in Civil Secretariat and all HoD level offices in Jammu Division will remain ceased till March 31, 2020 as a precautionary measure.

Chief Secretary directed the Divisional Commissioner, Jammu to ensure that passengers of all incoming flights from Ladakh be 100 % quarantined, besides setting up a quarantine facility at Baltal Base Camp in Sonmarg in Kashmir to quarantine people entering into JK from Ladakh. It was also decided that all foreigners visiting the Union Territory shall be quarantined as per the set protocol.

Expecting people to gather in large numbers during upcoming religious festivals, Chief Secretary directed Divisional Commissioner, Jammu to call a meeting of all prominent religious leaders, advising them to convince people to reduce/avoid gatherings during such times so as to keep the transmission in check.

The Chief Secretary directed the Commissioner, JMC, to start a massive fumigation drive at Hospitals, Airports, Railway Stations, Bus stand, Civil Secretariat, High Court, as well as public offices.

As another preventive measure to contain the virus, it was decided that all inter-state buses entering Jammu & Kashmir shall be checked and sanitized at an entry point in Kathua.

Regarding awareness among the common people for prevention of this disease, Chief Secretary directed Divisional Commissioner, Jammu to launch a sustained awareness campaign through all available means so that there is no panic and that people get educated about precautions and protocol to be followed in an event of contact with a suspect case.

Courtesy: Greater Kashmir