By declaring it an epidemic, the states now have authority to take strong measures to prevent its spread.
According to the latest count there are more than 80 confirmed cases of Covid-19 in India. With two patients dead due to the virus, most states have gone into lock down mode and are drawing up plans to tackle the situation.
Here are some of the steps that India has taken against the spread of the virus.
1. Travel Ban
India has sealed itself. As of 13 March 2020, it has suspended all visas for foreigners traveling to the country for an entire month till 15 April 2020. However, people holding diplomatic, official, UN/international organisations, employment and project visas however will be exempted for this ban.
This ban also extends to Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) card holders, who can travel to India without visas. In a bid to discourage Indians from travelling abroad, an advisory has been issued to avoid all non-essential travel.
2. Quarantine Upon Arrival
Besides the travel ban, India has also issued a statement informing travellers of a possible quarantine upon their arrival in India. All incoming travellers, including Indian nationals, arriving from or having visited China, Italy, Iran, Republic of Korea, France, Spain and Germany after 15 February, 2020 shall be quarantined for a minimum period of 14 days.
This will come into effect from 1200 GMT, 13 March 2020 at the port of departure. Incoming travellers from other countries may also be quarantined based on symptoms of Covid-19.
3. ‘Epidemic’ Declared by Few States
An epidemic is a widespread occurrence of an infectious disease in a community at a particular time. Given Covid-19 has no vaccine or cure as of now, it is imperative that India take all steps to contain its spread. By declaring it an epidemic, the states now have authority to take strong measures to prevent its spread.
Schools and colleges have been closed, hostels vacated, malls and movie theaters shut, conferences and events deferred.
Kerala, where India’s first reported case of Covid-19 came to light, has been receiving praise from all quarters for its timely actions to curtail the spread of the virus. In Kerala, the three students who returned from China and tested positive were kept under a 28-day quarantine. Kerala is now home-delivering mid-day meals to help parents’ pockets.
Delhi was also proactive in issuing a notice to all government and private schools to shut down until 31 March 2020. Furthermore, all movie theaters, conferences, seminars and events, which would see large gatherings, have been cancelled.
4. Railways Spring into Action
Given that a majority of Indians rely on the Indian rail system to travel domestically, measures have been implemented to ensure that the passengers are not put at risk. To create awareness about Covid-19, posters and material in different languages are being made available across railway stations. Audio and video clips are also being played at all railway stations.
A total of 1,100 isolation beds have been provided in Railway hospitals for fever-related cases, treating suspected COVID 19 cases. Also, 12,483 beds have been identified by Indian Railways for quarantine purposes at various locations across the country.
5. 24/7 helplines
India has set up 24-hour helplines and war rooms to help coordinate efforts. The Ministry of Health’s helpline number is 011-2397-8046 and the e-mail id is email@example.com. You can also log in to the official Health and & Family Welfare website here to stay updated.
It’s in our hands
Regardless of all the steps that the country is taking, the containment of the virus is in our hands, literally. Keep good hygiene; wash your hands regularly with soap and water, or use a hand sanitiser with at least 60 per cent alcohol. Don’t forward myths and rumors and stay away from crowded places. Keep safe and stay healthy.
(Edited by Saiqua Sultan)