Bhubaneswar: Amid spurt in COVID-19 cases, the Odisha government has promulgated an ordinance with provision of imprisonment up to two years for those who violate the epidemic regulations, official sources said on Thursday.
The ordinance amends a section of the Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897, they said.
As per the Epidemic Diseases (Amendment) Ordinance, 2020, anybody who disobeys any regulation or order made under the principal Act is liable for imprisonment up to two years or with fine up to Rs 10,000 or with both.
“Every offence under this Act shall be cognisable and bailable,” it said.
The ordinance was brought as the state assembly is not in session at present, sources said.
It replaces the section 3 of the main Act, which stated violating the law invites imprisonment for maximum six months and Rs 1,000 fine, an official said, adding that a clause has been inserted in another section of the principal Act.
Procurement of goods, services, and equipment for prevention and control of the epidemic disease have been brought under the purview of the amended provision which was not included in the 1897 Act, the official said.
In the wake of coronavirus outbreak, the state government had, last month, implemented the Odisha COVID-19 Regulations, 2020, using the main Act.
With this ordinance, the enforcement agencies will now be able to book violators of orders made under the epidemic disease Act, he said.
Meanwhile, the Odisha government has made wearing of mask mandatory from Thursday to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus as the number of COVID-19 cases in the state rose to 44 so far from just 5 reported till April 1. Though there is shortage of N-95 masks in the markets, the people may use their clean handkerchiefs and a piece of cloth with multiple folds for covering their nose and mouth while going outside their houses, Odisha government”s spokesman on COVID-19 Subroto Bagchi said. He said the children below two year and asthma patients should refrain from wearing masks as they might feel uneasy.
The experience of Japan is taken into consideration as the country could contain the spread of the dreaded virus by using masks, another official said.
Health and Family Welfare Department also tweeted, “Wear simple face mask whenever you go outside to slow spread of #COVID-19. Use any cotton material like handkerchief or piece of cloth and prepare it as a face mask to cover your nose, mouth and chin.”
Mission Shakti director Sujata Karthikeyan said the women self-help groups in Odisha have so far distributed more than 12 lakh masks among policemen, health workers and others.