Bhubaneswar: Alarmed at the unabated surge in Covid-19 cases in the state, the Odisha Government on Wednesday decided to bring an ordinance to enhance the punishment for non-compliance of the guidelines laid down for containing the spread of the deadly infection.
This was decided at a meeting of the state cabinet chaired by Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik to ensure strict observance of guidelines for containing the spread of COVID- 19, Chief Secretary A K Tripathy said.
It was decided to enhance the punishment as provided in section 3 of the Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897 to imprisonment for a term which may extend to two years or with fine which may extend up to Rs one lakh or with both, he said.
As the state Assembly is not in session, it is proposed that necessary amendment to the Act in its application to Odisha may be effected by the promulgation of an ordinance, the chief secretary said.
The move to make the punishment for violation of Covid-19 guidelines tougher was significant as the coronavirus caseload in the state touched 50,672 and the death toll 305.
“During the last one month there has been a spike in COVID positive cases in the state,” Tripathy said.
He said that for ensuring strict observance of guidelines, it is felt necessary to enhance the penalty amount as provided in the Epidemic Diseases Act in order to regulate the non-compliance of mask use, spitting at public places, violation of social distancing norms and other matters to bring a sense of higher discipline.
The move comes two days after two persons were arrested here on Monday for allegedly spreading misinformation regarding COVID management in the state.