TOPIC – COMBATING CORONAVIRUS – NEED OF A SEPARATE ACT TO CONTAIN VIRUS / PANDEMIC? by Ishita Srivastava

Pneumonia of unknown cause detected in Wuhan, China was later declared as a Public
Health Emergency of International Concern namely COVID-19. The boutade and rapid
spread of pandemic COVID-19 have challenged the world on an untested and unprecedented
scale. States have adopted divergent measures in response to COVID-19 pandemic. These
inconsistent responses might have had negative consequences, including the spread of the
disease, suboptimal outcomes due to State competition for essential medical resources with
materials and disruption of political, social, economic, spiritual, and monetary structures of
the total world. Therefore, several economists envisaged the labefaction of value growth that
ends up in inflation. The demand and supply are tormented by the virus, leading to depressing
the activity of Foreign Direct Investment flows. Nowadays, cybercrime is one of the foremost
pivotal issues faced by the total world. It’s illicit to gain personal data like password, email,
and device information of individuals using the web.

Over the past few months, the COVID-19 pandemic forced millions of people to work from
home and also seems to be using the teleconferencing software like Zoom, Google Hangout,
Webex Meet, Microsoft Teams and other heterogeneous applications for meetings, classes,
and even social gatherings. On an untested and unprecedented scale, teaching is moving
online. Several student assessments have merely been cancelled. Significantly, these
interruptions will not simply be a short-run issue but also can have semi-permanent
consequences. Due to cause and effect, the COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated the need
for further global cooperation in pandemic suppression and amelioration. And, this could also
include the establishment of a UN Convention on Pandemic Suppression (“UN COPS”) as a
comprehensive international instrument on pandemic response. As per WHO report “WHO is
working 24/7 to analyse data, provide advice, coordinate with partners, help countries
prepare, increase supplies and manage expert networks.”

  1. How WHO defined “pandemic”?
    According to the WHO “a pandemic is the worldwide spread of a new disease. An
    influenza pandemic occurs when a new influenza virus emerges and spreads around
    the world, and most people do not have immunity.” In brief, it is an epidemic
    occurring around the globe, or over a very wide area, crossing all the international
    frontiers and typically affecting a large number of people. Otherwise stated, this
    implies a disease boutade will be labelled as pandemic when it is spread worldwide,
    over several countries and continents, usually affecting a large number of people. But there is an exception to this definition that the disease must be infectious as cancer affects many people around the globe but is not infectious and hence it is not defined as a pandemic.
  1. Why WHO call COVID-19 a pandemic?
    Earlier, WHO had stopped calling the boutade a pandemic because local diffuse was
    limited, and most cases were having a connection with China or any other emerging
    hotspot, for instance, Iran or Italy. But blatantly, local transmission was ubiquitous,
    with over 115 nations detecting the virus and more than 10 confirming at least 500
    cases.
  2. When was the last time WHO declared a pandemic?
    In 2009, WHO declared pandemic for the H1N1 influenza outbreak. This decision of
    WHO was criticised by several nations stating that it is causing unnecessary panic
    among the nations and there citizens or residents. It also led to several nations wasting
    their capital on vaccines for a strain of flu that proved to be mild and relatively easy to
    contain.
  3. However, the scientists of WHO are now stating that the vaccine alone will not be able to
    solve the crisis at large and that it could take 4-5 years to contain the virus at large. In an
    interview with WHO expert, Soumya Vishwanathan made these predictions that it could take a long time to bid goodbye to the virus. “I would say in the four-five year time frame we could be looking at controlling this.”
    WHO in his previous report stated that the lockdown has been very helpful in containing the spread, but are not effective in ceasing the virus. For actually stopping this virus from
    spreading, it is important that minimum 60-70% of the population must gain immunity from the deadly infection. But in the present case of COVID-19, gaining immunity is not possible with coronavirus since it is affecting every age group. The only possible find is to develop a vaccine for fighting against this deadly virus.
    Government Advisories and State Actions
    COVID-19 has affected all three branches/ arms of the State, namely the Legislature,
    executive and judiciary.
  4. Have courts issued any directions in view of the COVID-19 boutade?
    The Supreme Court of India (SC) has announced that from 16th March 2020, the SC
    will be hearing only urgent matters and also directed that only the lawyers along with
    one litigant will be permitted in the courtroom. Akin restrictions have been announced
    by various courts including Delhi High Court, Bombay High Court, NCLT and
    district courts in Delhi, Karnataka and other tribunals. The restrictions were made
    including the hearing of urgent matters only, requiring parties to show urgency on the
    matters, which may only be heard after court’s satisfaction of the urgency, and also
    limiting the presence of litigants in matters where it is mandatory/ unavoidable (as in
    case of anticipatory bail), potential thermal screening of the visitors to the court
    premises and closure of cafeterias.
    But, later on, 25th March 2020, the Supreme Court holds two virtual courts through
    video-conferencing on the “Vidyo” app to hear certain urgent matters. On 6th April
    2020, the SC directed all district courts in the country to switch to video proceedings
    and also gave authorisation to the presiding officers to adjourn the proceedings if
    measures to control crowding in courtroom fail. On 15th April 2020, the sanitization
    workers in the country were provided with requisite protective kits and the authorities
    are following guidelines of the WHO on COVID-19 pandemic.
  5. Has the Indian government issued any travel-related advisory?
    Earlier, till 13th March 2020, the government of India has issued several advisories
    pertaining to travel restrictions on account of COVID-19. All existing visas were
    suspended and OCI cardholders, who are already in India, can stay as long as they
    want. Visas of all foreigners already in India will remain valid as well as any foreign
    national who intended to travel to India for any compelling reason may contact the
    nearest Indian Mission. All incoming travellers, including Indian Nationals, were
    strongly advised to refrain from travelling to China, Italy, Iran, Republic of Korea,
    France, Spain and Germany. Those who were travelling to these countries after 15th
    February 2020 shall be quarantined for a minimum period of 14 days. All passengers
    returning to India have to furnish duly filled self- declaration forms to health officials
    and immigration officials and have to undergo through Universal Health Screening at
    designated health counters.

Lately, COVID-19 related announcements were made by the Government for
suspension of all non – essential passenger transport including trains, inter-state buses
as well as metros and completely shut-down of markets as well as shopping complex
baring essential services. Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced a
stimulus package of Rs. 3 lakh crore for MSMEs and the Prime Minister’s Office
announced that the PM CARES fund will allocate Rs. 3,100 crore for COVID-19
relief, including funds for ventilators, migrant workers and vaccine development.
COVID-19 is a deadly infectious disease that primarily affects the lungs of an infected
person. As per scientist and experts of WHO, smoking damages the lungs and makes
it harder for the body to fight off coronavirus and other diseases. Tobacco is also a
major risk factor for non-communicable diseases like cancer, diabetes which put
people with these conditions at higher risk of severe illness when affected COVID-19.

CONCLUSION
 While the full impact of the COVID-19 boutade and challenged the world on an untested
and unprecedented scale. These interruptions will not simply be a short-run issue but also
can have semi-permanent consequences. There is also another recurring issue that much
scientists and doctors think that like any other flu, COVID-19 may develop into a
seasonal infection.
 For sure, this virus will kick in a lot of changes in the way we live, commute or work.
For dealing with those changes in our daily life, we need to make a separate Act to
contain virus/pandemic. But at present, for the long run, the only thing we can do to
lower down the spread by practising effective social distancing and sanitation where
possible.
 A comprehensive statute needs to be passed by the parliament which should cover
various aspects restraining virus/ pandemic including specific provisions for lockdown as
well as quarantine period, wages/remuneration to employees during the lockdown period,
work from home, online student assessments, financial assistance to the States.
 Proper implementation of the judgement of the Supreme Court of India (SC) in the case
of deadly influenza or disease like COVID-19 pandemic.

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