Author: Shefali Chitkara
Vivekananda Institute of Professional Studies, Delhi
“Just like a war, impromptu and dangerous, COVID-19 has emerged and stopped the whole world.”
With the cases of COVID-19 increasing day-by-day in India, there has been a huge threat to the lives of many people along with the economy of the country. The first coronavirus case in India was reported on January 30, 2020 and now there are many active cases. With such a tremendous increase in the number of cases, there is an urgent need of educating the people to fight against the virus. To combat the spread of the virus, the first nationwide lockdown was imposed on March 24, 2020 for three weeks. This is the fifth phase of lockdown (from June 1, 2020) going on with restrictions only in containment zones. States have invoked the provisions of the Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897. In India, Maharashtra is the worst-affected state, followed by Delhi, Tamil Nadu and Gujarat. The state governments have responded to the COVID-19 situation by declaration of emergency, through Section 144 (CrPC), closure of hotels, Institutions, meeting places, offices, etc.
Various states have responded differently to this pandemic. Few states have been mentioned below with their responses to this virus.
In addition to the Nationwide lockdown, the State government of Andhra Pradesh formed the District level Committees for fixing and monitoring the prices of essential food items. It has also announced several welfare measures for the poor people. Free rations to NGOs running old age homes and child care Institutions, Special Shelter Centres for providing food and shelter to the migrant workers, one-time support of ₹1000 to all ration card holding families, etc. On April 12, 2020, the government prohibited the use and spitting of tobacco and sputum in public places. Till June 25, there are around 10,331 confirmed cases in Andhra Pradesh and 124 deaths. More than 4,700 people have been cured.
Initially, the government issued orders to shut down various premises, the government staff was directed to come to office on alternate days. The Health Department issued The Bihar Epidemic Diseases, COVID-19 Regulation 2020 under the Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897 on March 17, 2020. It specifies the protocol to be followed in hospitals for screening and treatment of COVID-19 patients. It also makes spreading of fake news, rumours a punishable offence. Government also announced the relief package for the people, community kitchens and relief camps have been started in government school campuses to provide food and shelter. The State Cabinet also reduced the electricity tariff for domestic and agricultural users by 10 paise per unit. Till June 25, there were 8,209 confirmed cases in Bihar with 57 deaths. More than 6,000 people have been cured.
Gujarat government launched a Fever Helpline 104 on March 20, 2020 for reporting the cases of COVID-19. Khas Kharid Committee was also set up to ensure the procurement of necessary medicines and equipment during emergencies. The Gujarat Legislative assembly also decided to postpone the Rajya Sabha elections that were to be held on March 26, 2020. The State Government decided to provide ration to 60 lakh poor families and launched a Vadil Vandana scheme to provide meals to elderly people living alone. There have been 23,943 confirmed cases registered with 1735 deaths till now. More than 21,000 people have been cured.
Along with the nationwide lockdown, the Education Department gave directions to all schools to postpone the selection of school fees. The State Cabinet provided wheat and rice at subsidized price to Above Poverty Line ration card holders. It was also made compulsory for all people to wear masks in public places on April 8, 2020. However, now it has been made compulsory all over the nation. Maharashtra is the state with the highest number of confirmed cases registered, i.e. 1,42,900 with 6,739 deaths till June 25, 2020. More than 73,000 people have been cured.
The government of Tamil Nadu prescribed its COVID-19 Regulations, 2020 on March 15, 2020. On the same day, it also made a 14-day institutional isolation mandatory for all air travellers. Amidst the nation-wide lockdown, the government allowed the establishments providing essentials to operate. It also provided cash assistance to differently-abled people, ration cards holders, match factory workers and even more. The government also launched a WhatsApp Chat Box for providing latest information regarding COVID-19 in Tamil as well as English language. There have been 67,468 confirmed cases reported in Tamil Nadu till June 25 with 866 deaths. Around 37,763 have been cured.
The Chief Minister of Delhi, Arvind Kejriwal declared COVID-19 an epidemic in the capital of India, Delhi on March 12, 2020. Till May 31, 2020, there was a lockdown everywhere as announced by the Central Government with some exceptions like people can go out for buying essentials with a condition of wearing masks and no one could step out of their house between 7 PM – 7 AM. But after June 1 2020, timings have been changed to 9 PM – 5 AM (Nation-wide curfew). The Delhi Government also announced operation SHIELD (Sealing the immediate area, Home quarantine to all people living in that area, Isolation and contact tracing of people, Essential supply of commodities, Local sanitization, Door-to-door health check of people in the area) to curb the spread of virus in containment zones. Later, it also announced that this operation was successful in controlling the spread of virus in many areas. After this, the state has also come out with a revised COVID response plan which states that every house in Delhi will be screened by July 6, 2020. There have been more than 70,390 confirmed cases reported in Delhi with 2,365 deaths. Around 41,437 cases have been cured.
RESPONSES OF SOME OTHER STATES
Similarly, many other states like Kerala, Rajasthan, Odisha have taken such precautionary measures. Kerala was the first Indian state to report the COVID-19 patients and topped the list at one stage. But now it is not Kerala as it has managed to flatten its curve. It was also successful in defeating the Nipah virus in 2018. This experience was utilized by Kerala in fighting with the COVID-19. It has successfully launched the GoK Direct app to check the spread of fake information. Furthermore, it also created an initiative called the CoronaSafe Network. On the other hand, Odisha’s proactive preparedness is its hallmark as it was the first Indian state to impose full lockdown before the central government imposed it on the whole India. Despite such measures, the positive cases are rising day by day in most of the states.
In this ongoing pandemic, it is the duty and responsibility of not only the states but individuals to follow the rules laid down by the government. If we are protecting ourselves that means we are protecting many around us. State governments are doing their best to help poor people who could not work during this pandemic by providing cash assistance to many poor families, helping migrant workers. But still due to the very huge population of India, many people are not able to sustain themselves in this situation. There is an urgent need for state governments to actively take measures to fight with the Corona and encourage people to fight as well. Every state should respond to this type of situation together and diligently.