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Haryana declares coronavirus ‘epidemic’, first in country

The notification also directed all hospitals (government and private) across the state to have “flu corners for screening of suspected cases of COVID-19”.

By: Express News Service | Chandigarh |
Updated: March 12, 2020 7:27:32 pm
coronavirus, coronavirus in India, coronavirus cases in India, coronavirus infection, coronavirus death toll, COVID-19, coronavirus treatment, coronavirus vaccine The notification also directed all hospitals (government and private) across the state to have “flu corners for screening of suspected cases of COVID-19”. (Express Photo by Tashi Tobgyal/File)

The Haryana government Thursday declared the coronavirus infection as an epidemic and empowered deputy commissioners (DCs) and other senior officers to enforce stringent measures including “sealing of the geographical areas” and “banning entry-exit of the population from the containment area”.

The notification issued by Governor Satyadev Narayan Arya has also detailed several regulations — issued under The Haryana Epidemic Disease, COVID-19 Regulations, 2020 — that shall remain in force for a period of one year, till March 11, 2021.

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“COVID-19 (coronavirus disease) declared epidemic in Haryana,” Health Minister Anil Vij said in a tweet.

The minister later said that every country is initiating steps to combat the impact of coronavirus. Similarly, India is also taking adequate measures. “That’s why Haryana has declared coronavirus an epidemic. Haryana is the first state in the country to have declared this fatal disease an epidemic. Several regulations have been issued and officers have been given legal rights to act under the notification issued,” Vij said.

“Certain cases have come to light where people coming from corona affected areas or countries have refused hospitalisation and isolation. But, it will no longer be accepted as the officials have now legal powers to forcefully hospitalise/ isolate the suspects,” he further said.

According to the state health department, 44 samples of suspected cases were sent for tests till Wednesday. Out of these, 38 were found negative for coronavirus while reports of six people — four from Gurgaon and two from Panchkula — were awaited.

As per the notification issued by the Governor, all hospitals have been directed to have flu corners for screening of suspected cases of COVID-19.

“All hospitals (government and private) during screening of such cases shall record the history of travel of the person. In addition the history of coming in contact with a suspected or confirmed case of COVID shall be recorded,” the notification reads.

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“If the case of COVID-19 is reported from a defined geographic area such as village, town, ward, colony, settlement, the district administration of the concerned district shall have the right to implement following containment measures, but not limited to these, in order to prevent spread of the disease – sealing of the geographical area, barring entry and exit of population from the containment area, closure of schools, offices and banning public gatherings, banning vehicular movement in the area, initiating active and passive surveillance of COVID-19 cases, hospital isolation of suspected cases, designating any government/ building as containment unit for isolation of the cases, any other measure as directed by the health department,” it further reads.

Directors of health services, and medical education and research at state level and DCs, civil surgeon, SDM and senior medical officer in the districts and officers as authorized are empowered to initiate action as per the regulations under the notification.

The notification also imposed a ban on revealing the identity of the patient infected with COVID-19. “No person or institution or organization will use any print or electronic media for information regarding COVID-19 without prior permission of state health department. This is to avoid spread of any rumour or unauthenticated information. In case, any person, institution or organization is found indulging in such activity, it will be treated as punishable offence under these regulations”.

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The government has also barred private laboratories from taking or testing any samples for COVID-19. “All such samples shall be collected as per guidelines of Government of India and sent to designated labs by the district nodal officer appointed by the state health department,” the notification adds.

Persons who have a history of travel to a country or area from where COVID-19 has been reported in the last 14 days “must report to nearest government hospital or call toll free helpline number 108 so that necessary measures, if required, may be initiated by the health department”, the notification reads. The notification has also empowered officials that “if a suspected case of COVID-19 refuses admission or isolation, officers authorized will have powers to forcefully admit and isolate such case for a period of 14 days from the onset of symptoms or till the reports of lab tests are received, or such period as may be necessary”.

Also, “no suit or legal proceedings shall lie against any person for anything done or intended to be done in good faith under Epidemic Disease Act unless proved otherwise”, the notification adds.

Over 270 isolation wards with 1,206 beds have been set up in government and private hospitals to deal with any contingency. Rohtak’s premier PGIMS Hospital has been designated as the Tertiary Care Centre for treatment of critical patients.

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