Rajya Sabha passes bill to punish those attacking healthcare workers

Agencies
September 19, 2020

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New Delhi, Sept 19: The Rajya Sabha on Saturday passed a legislation that provides for up to five years in jail for those attacking doctors and healthcare workers fighting the COVID-19 outbreak or during any situation akin to the current pandemic.

The Epidemic Diseases (Amendment) Bill, 2020 was introduced by Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan in the Upper House on Saturday to replace an ordinance issued by the government in April.

The Union Cabinet had promulgated The Epidemic Diseases (Amendment) Ordinance 2020 to amend the Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897, to protect healthcare service personnel and property, including their living/working premises against violence during epidemics.

The Bill intends to ensure that during any situation akin to the current pandemic, there is zero-tolerance to any form of violence against healthcare service personnel and damage to property.

The healthcare service personnel include public and clinical healthcare service providers such as doctors, nurses, paramedical workers and community health workers; any other persons empowered under the act to take measures to prevent the outbreak of the disease or spread thereof; and any persons declared as such by the state government, by notification in the official gazette.

The penal provisions can be invoked in instances of damage to property including a clinical establishment, any facility identified for quarantine and isolation of patients, mobile medical units and any other property in which the healthcare service personnel have a direct interest in relation to the epidemic.

Offences will be investigated by an officer of the rank of inspector within a period of 30 days, and trial has to be completed in one year, unless extended by the court for reasons to be recorded in writing, the Bill proposes.

As per the its provisions, the commission or abetment of such acts of violence will be punishable with an imprisonment for a term of three months to five years, and with a fine of Rs 50,000 to Rs 2,00,000.

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News Network
October 19,2020

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A location tag of a live video on Twitter posted by national security analyst Nitin Gokhale showed Jammu and Kashmir as a part of China and Leh's Hall of Fame as a part of Jammu and Kashmir instead of the Union Territory of Ladakh.

Gokhale tweeted screenshots and tagged Twitter's support handle saying that he did this on purpose as a test. Gokhale also shared a screenshot in which Leh's Kushok Bakula Rimpochee Airport was identified as a part of China by the micro-blogging platform.

The analyst later tweeted, "I believe Govt agencies have escalated the matter too. Hopefully the mistake , deliberate or otherwise, will be corrected soonest."

Several irate Twitter users replied and retweeted the incident and asked Twitter India for accountability.

A user @KedarNiwasi tagged the Meity minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said, "Dear @rsprasad this is outrageous. @twitterIndia should be made accountable.

Another user asked Twitter to correct the mistake.

I hope it's a very silly mistake, said another Twitter user.

"@PMOIndia @AmitShahOffice sir we need to suspend @TwitterIndia in India till they time make the corrections," said Twitter user @gautam5300.

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News Network
October 17,2020

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India may get a Covid-19 vaccine as early as March since several manufacturers are working on it, according to Dr Suresh Jadhav, executive director of Serum Institute of India. The institute is working with Oxford University and AstraZeneca to develop a Covid-19 vaccine in India.

Dr Jadhav said that provided regulators approve the vaccine candidates, India is moving fast towards having a vaccine for Covid-19. He said two manufacturers are already in phase-III trial and one in phase-II trial and more are joining, all indicating positive developments in the global race for a vaccine.

The spread of the novel coronavirus in India has quickened in the last few days with new cases of Covid-19 and deaths reported every day. The pandemic has expanded its footprint in the country and has affected over 74 lakh people since the first positive case was confirmed on January 30 in Kerala. India's Covid-19 death toll stands at 1,12,910.

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Agencies
October 27,2020

New Delhi, Oct 27: The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) on Tuesday extended the guidelines for reopening to further ease Covid-19 restrictions issued for October till November 30, saying the essence behind the decision is to "move ahead" but warned that it did not mean the end of the pandemic.

The MHA said there is a need to exercise abundant caution by adopting Covid-19 appropriate behaviour and referred to the 'Jan Andolan' launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi October 8 to follow three 'mantras' -- wear your mask properly, wash your hands frequently and maintain a safe distance of six feet.

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"The essence behind graded re-opening and progressive resumption of activities is to move ahead. However, it does not mean the end of the pandemic. There is a need to exercise abundant caution by adopting Covid-19 appropriate behaviour by every citizen in their daily routine," an official statement said.

It said there was an urgent need to instil a sense of discipline and ownership amongst citizens in order that the resumption of activities is successful and gains made in the management of the pandemic are not diluted.

The MHA has already advised Chief Secretaries and Administrators of states and Union Territories that they should endeavour to promote Covid-19 appropriate behaviour extensively at the grass-root level and take measures to enforce the wearing of masks, hand hygiene and social distancing.

The 'reopening' guidelines issued on September 30 had allowed states the flexibility to decide on reopening schools after October 15 while cinema theatres, entertainment parks and business to business (B2B) exhibitions were also allowed to function from the same date.

The “reopening” guidelines had virtually opened up the whole country and also further relaxed restrictions on religious, political, social and other gatherings by entirely lifting the cap of 100 people after October 15. However, in closed spaces, a maximum of 50% hall capacity will be allowed with a ceiling of 200 persons.

International air travel other than those permitted by the government will also continue to remain suspended. Lockdown in containment zones will continue till October 31.

The guidelines are no more called “unlock guidelines”, which were issued for months since June, but “re-opening” guidelines, with the government indicating that most of the restrictions have been lifted except in containment zones.

It had also allowed the opening of cinemas, theatres and multiplexes outside containment zones from October 15 but with 50% capacity. Entertainment parks and similar places, as well as swimming pools used for training of sportspersons, will be allowed to open from October 15. Business to Business (B2B) exhibitions will also return from mid-October, in a boost to the sector.

The guidelines also reiterated its warning to states against imposing local lockdown and if a state wants to impose local lockdown outside containment zones – state-wide, district, sub-district or city level --  it will have to consult the Centre.

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