After Madhya Pradesh, Tripura has invoked the Essential Services Management Act (ESMA) to manage the coronavirus outbreak. The decision was taken on Thursday and came into immediate effect.
ESMA empowers the state government to punish employees who refuse to serve in sectors which are considered essential to maintain normalcy. Healthcare, sale and transport of medicines and medical equipment, electricity, food, drinking water and security are among the services considered essential.
“In order to better manage #COVID-19 outbreak in the interest of citizens, from today the government has implemented the Essential Services Management Act (ESMA) with immediate effect in Tripura,” Chief Minister Biplab Kumar Deb said.
The decision was made shortly after Deb announced strict action against the nurses who purportedly complained about a shortage of masks and other protective gear at the state-run Gobinda Ballabh Pant (GBP) Hospital in Agartala. Health Secretary Debashish Basu later confirmed that show-cause notices were issued against 18 nurses. He said their attitude was condemnable during these “tough times”.
In another decision, the state government said only officials at a secretary level and above would be allowed to speak to the media henceforth to ensure only authentic information is released to the public.
The number of people quarantined in the state has come down in the last few days. On Friday, 985 persons were under quarantine, including 829 at their homes and 156 in institutional centres. A total of 10,467 persons have been kept under surveillance since the outbreak earlier this year.
The state has tested 274 individuals for the disease, and only one tested positive. The patient is recovering, Deb said, hoping she would get better soon.
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