This article is written by Sabrina M student of Crescent School of Law BS Abdur Rahman Crescent Institute of Science and Technology, Chennai.
Table of Contents
The entire world in the year 2020 is witnessing a massive lockdown due to the reason for the outbreak of a deadly virus named “Corona”. The virus has been abbreviated as COVID-19 meaning Coronavirus Disease 19. This virus is highly transmittable and is caused by Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 i.e. SARS-CoV-2, which is known to have emerged in Wuhan, China and disseminated around the world. Genomic analysis revealed that SARS-CoV-2 is phylogenetically related to severe acute respiratory syndrome-like (SARS-like) bat viruses, therefore bats could be the possible primary reservoir1.
Although its origin and diffusion into the human body is still not found, it is now evident that the human to human transmission is rapid. The virus showed symptoms of severe and unstoppable cold and cough, fever, diarrhea and vomiting. As per the reports of worldometers, corona has affected around 210 countries with around 2.97 million confirmed cases2.
The report also states that the United States of America is the highest affected country followed by Italy, Spain and France3. The pandemic has resulted in self-quarantine in many countries which has led to shut down of industries, institutions, malls and all crowding areas.
Despite the fact that this situation is hectic to many people, it is causing a positive response from the environment. Pollution rates have lowered since the lockdown, many species of animals are found free in the environment, water bodies are rejuvenating and many more changes. This article will highlight the various laws adopted by the countries and in India to tackle the consequences caused by the spread of the virus.
Countries Affected by Covid-19
CHINA (WUHAN) :
The spread of the virus started with the Huanan Seafood Market in Wuhan, a city in South China. The very first case to have been analysed was a person who sold dry seafood in the market, he was found with symptoms of severe cough and cold with rapid weight loss. The disease spread like a wildfire in and around Wuhan causing around 2000 death cases within 2 months4.
Since the Chinese Government did not release any official warning neither to its citizens nor to the other countries, the disease transmitted in a higher rate, affecting even countries like Italy, France and the United States of America due to which this disease was ranked the worst pandemic after World War II.
Wuhan, the centre of the outbreak of the virus experienced the first and the most strict lockdown which was implemented within hours of the announcement, following which other cities were also brought under the lockdown as well. China witnessed approximately 3800 cases tested positive in the month of February 20205. With the proper and able guidance of the World Health Organization, China reduced the new cases each day. The World Health Organization not only guided the experts and other partners but has also played a critical role in advising the people about basic sanitation and the importance of social distancing in a critical situation like this.
The pandemic officially began in Italy on 20 February 2020 where a 38 year-old man was tested positive in a local hospital in the town of Codogno in Lombardy6. By the time the country detected the spread of the virus, it had already admitted numerous patients in their hospitals with influenza symptoms. The main reason for the spread of the virus in the country was the lack of knowledge of the virus. Italy was the very first country to cancel and ban flights to and from China. This was one of the methods used by the country to combat the virus, which was appreciated by the Director-General of WHO7 himself.
The country banned all kinds of public events, schools, colleges, gyms theatres and cinemas were closed as a prevention technique. Any individual who defies the lockdown is punished with imprisonment for up to 3 months or a fine of $ 234 is imposed on the individual. The new rules also prohibited the visits of relatives or friends of inmates/ prisoners that set out protests in almost 27 prisons throughout the country8.
The country has however allowed flights to and from other foreign countries, which allowed only permissible travels, approved and signed by the police based on family reasons which could not be postponed afterwards or other important travels based on work. All healthcare workers were asked to cancel their holidays. The mortgage repayment has however been postponed due to this pandemic disease.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA:
At present, the United States has been recorded as the country with the highest death rate due to the pandemic. The main reason for the unstoppable transmission of the virus is the lack of medical kits- the shortage of masks, ventilators, gloves and gowns. Also, the country was lethargic about the testing that is necessary for knowing the infections. The citizens of the country failed to abide to social distancing.
Apart from these laggings, the United States Congress passed a $2 trillion corona relief bill. The bill included direct cash payment to many Americans, expanded unemployment assistance, health care facilities and other public services supports for the highest-hit industries. Another main reason is the lack of mutual coordination in the division of powers.
The individual states are delegated responsibilities by the Federal Government because the pandemic cannot be combated by a vast country with one central authority. But, this delegation is also a bane. The US Congress is completely unsatisfied with the lack of uniformity by the Governors of the States. Every Governor is given the discretion to make decisions on their own, a few of them make a proper and conditional decision but a few are incapable to do so. The States have introduced and implemented certain laws that were very much helpful to combat the disease:
42 USC Part G9 – Quarantine and Inspection.
- Sec. 264. Regulations to control communicable diseases
- Sec. 265. Suspension of entries and imports from designated places to prevent spread of communicable diseases
- Sec. 266. Special quarantine powers in time of war
- Sec. 267. Quarantine stations, grounds, and anchorages
- Sec. 268. Quarantine duties of consular and other officers
- Sec. 269. Bills of health
- Sec. 270. Quarantine regulations governing civil air navigation and civil aircraft
- Sec. 271. Penalties for violation of quarantine laws
- Sec. 272. Administration of oaths by quarantine officers10.
The entire United States is based on the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), their leading national public health institute. It is a United States federal agency under the department of health and human services. CDC has issued guidelines and safety measures that must be followed by every citizen which includes frequent hand washing, covering faces with masks when travelling, maintaining social distance in crowded places, staying away from individuals who are found having any symptoms relating to the virus. Recently, the President of the United States has released guidelines on opening up America again11.
To make this a more effective initiative towards the rejuvenating of America again, the President has included in his guidelines, a proposed State or regional gating criteria, which is applicable to every individual, employers and specific types of employers. According to the President, America is now healing and he believes that the virus will disappear on its own, but in reality, the country still doesn’t have proper required equipments for testing its citizens, and there is no recession in the number of death rates due to this deadly virus.
Sadly, Spain has more casualties when compared to China, due to the spread of the virus. The national lockdown there commenced only on March 11 when it already had to bear with 1000+ dead cases12. The lockdown, similar to other countries, was quite hard for its people to stay inside their homes. The order was unprecedented, hence, people experienced extreme difficulty to purchase goods for their daily needs.
As a result, the Prime Minister allowed trips for food, medicine and other essentials requirements as the cases exceeded 7700 with 288 deaths13. The country has also set a rule that whoever breaches this quarantine will have to pay a fine of 100 euros to 6,00,000 euros based on the behavior of the individual affecting the public health. Spain has fully closed its land borders, but the natives returning from other countries are still welcomed.
COVID 19 AND INDIA:
Just like all other countries, India too has subjected its people to legally enforceable quarantine or self-quarantine. The world-wide lockdown has clearly implied that this virus outbreak is not only a threat to India, but to every other country also. India has chosen common law remedies for its citizens which is handy in times of epidemics and pandemics. The precedent deciding the power of the State to enact laws and impose health regulations in case of health emergencies and epidemics was held in a United States Supreme Court case, Gibbons v. Ogden14.
The Indian Penal Code15 of the country supplements an additional law called the Epidemic Diseases Act,1897. This Act was enforced during the outbreak of the Bubonic Plague in Mumbai. In addition to this, the quarantine law also includes the Disaster Management Act, 200516. The Indian Penal Code considers the violation of self-quarantine as a public nuisance and indulges Sections 188, 269,270 and 271 of the Code and also the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973. In addition to these provisions, Section 269 of Indian penal Code states that whoever knowingly or negligently spreads the infection of any disease dangerous to life shall be imprisoned for six months and fine or both.
It is already the duty of the State to provide nutrition, security, standard of living and improvement of public health17. With the view of other countries, India has also taken their precautionary measures, by abiding to self-quarantine, proper sanitation and usage of masks while moving outside. The whole nation was guided by the prime Minister to appreciate the health workers which includes the Frontline Doctors, Police Officers and Sanitation workers who are striving for the cure of the disease and to protect the citizens.
Author’s Critic (Conclusion)
The outbreak of this deadly virus has taken a huge toll on the lives from all parts of the country. The virus has infected people irrespective of their caste or religion or race. In Spite of all this, every affected individual receives the same treatment, and every individual who defies the rule also receives the same punishment. Not only India, but all the countries are taking high and prompt initiatives for the betterment of their citizens, but many of them fail to abide to these rules and do not stay isolated. As an author, I would like to express my view to the readers that staying at home is for our betterment. With this, I would like to conclude my article.
Stay Home, Stay Safe.
- Tedros Adhanom, Director-General of the World Health Organization, former health and foreign minister of Ethiopia.
- 42 United States Code Part G deals with public health, social welfare and civil rights
- Indian Penal Code, 1860.
- Section 6(2)(1) and Section 10 (2)(1) of the Disaster Management Act, 2005.
- Section 47 of the Constitution of India, 1950.