India saw the sharpest increase in the number of Covid-19 cases on a single day on Friday, with 63 people testing positive across the country, even as the central government told states to strictly enforce social distancing to curb the spread of the virus.
Under the Epidemic Diseases Act and Disaster Management Act, the states can take punitive action including imprisonment up to six months and Rs 1,000 fine on violators.
“The Centre has asked states to take strict action as per the appropriate law against people who do not follow the social distancing directive. State governments have the inherent power under the Epidemic Diseases Act and Disaster Management Act to take action against anyone not following the government directive and risking lives of people,” said Lav Aggarwal, joint secretary, Union health ministry.
On Monday, March 16, the government issued a detailed advisory on social distancing measures as a non-pharmaceutical intervention to curb the spread of the coronavirus disease.
Social distancing implies avoiding or reducing social contacts to stop or slow the rate and extent of disease transmission.
“This has been found to be a useful approach to decrease the morbidity and mortality due to the disease. India is following a two-pronged strategy — that is to screen people at the points of entry so that the disease doesn’t come in, and to stop disease transmission for which social distancing is the key,” said Aggarwal.
“The number of positive cases is progressively increasing, so to break the chain of transmission, social distancing is going to be instrumental,” he added.
The total number of people who are Covid-19 positive in India reached 236 on Friday, with four deaths. The government is not counting the death of a 70-year-old Italian tourist as a Covid-19 death. He was, after recovering from the infection, admitted to a private hospital in Jaipur with other health complications and died of a heart attack on Friday.
“This man had recovered from Covid-19, and had been certified disease-free. In the private hospital he was undergoing treatment for some other condition. He had co-morbidities, hence, cannot be counted as a Covid-19 death,” said Aggarwal.