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Coronavirus: Tamil Nadu opens door to forcible hospitalisation, empowers collectors to seal areas to prevent outbreak

CHENNAI: The Health Department on Sunday passed a rare order, Tamil Nadu COVID-19 Regulations, 2020, empowering State officials to forcibly hospitalise or isolate any person to prevent the spread of COVID – 19.

It also empowers district collectors to even seal a geographical area like a ward, village, town or city, if cases of COVID-19 are reported from that particular area.

This includes barring entry and exit of people from the sealed area. The order was passed by invoking powers from the Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897. The order also bans any private laboratory from taking or testing samples of COVID – 19.

The persons who can be forcibly hospitalised or isolated include those who had travelled to any country or area, where COVID-19 has been reported in the last 28 days and those who had a history of coming in contact with anyone suspected or confirmed to be carrying COVID – 19.

The order empowers the officials to hospitalise such persons for a period of 14 days or till the lab test results.

Also, the order requires all persons and institutions to get prior permission from the government before disseminating any information relating to the virus.

Every hospital, including private hospitals, has been mandated to inform all suspected cases of COVID-19 to the city health officer in Chennai district and to the Deputy Director of Health Services in rest of the state.

All hospitals are mandated to maintain rooms or wards exclusively to examine and screen a person suspected of COVID-19.