Bihar govt. declares COVID-19 an epidemic

The Bihar government has declared COVID-19 as an epidemic and issued the Bihar Epidemic Diseases COVID-19 Regulation 2020.

The regulation has given legal powers to government officials to conduct mass screening of suspected patients, including forcible isolation, sealing of any geographical area and taking punitive action against those hiding symptoms of the virus, running away from isolation centres or spreading misinformation.

Interactive map of confirmed coronavirus cases in India

In Bihar, a total 311 suspected cases have been reported but none has tested positive yet.

There has also been no death due to the disease in the State and all schools, colleges, coaching centres, malls and cinema halls have been closed till March 31.

Special screening is being done for passengers coming to the State. At the Indo-Nepal border too screening of those coming into Bihar border are being done at several places.

The State government on Tuesday issued the Bihar Epidemic Diseases, COVID 19 Regulation 2020 by invoking Section 2, 3 and 4 of the Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897 with the notification issued by the Health Department.

Watch | COVID-19: Dos and don’ts from the Health Ministry

Principal Secretary (Health) Sanjay Kumar said “regulation has been brought in with the objectives of providing legal cover to officials in taking appropriate measures to contain the spread of the virus and also encourage social distancing among people to check the virus”.

“Now the District Magistrates can initiate coercive action against any person considered suspected or confirmed of Coronavirus if he or she refuses to take measures for prevention or treatment like home quarantine or institutional quarantine isolation,” he said.

He also added that under the regulation any person, institution or organisation found spreading misinformation regarding COVID-19 through print, electronic or social media would be booked.

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