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From bubonic plague years to COVID-19 in India

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CoronaViru, china, india, mumbai, virus, disease, china virusOn March 11, the Cabinet Secretary decided that all States and Union Territories should invoke Section 2 of Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897, so that the Health Ministry recommendation can be enforced.

At present, around 75 COVID-19 cases have tested positive in India. About 134,918 people have been infected and nearly 4,989 deaths have occurred due to this malicious virus. The virus certainly damages the respiratory organs and intestinal tract. The first case was detected in Wuhan region of China.

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The Epidemic Diseases Act meant to enforce throughout the states to fight against the outbreak of any diseases such as dengue, swine flu and Cholera.

It may be remembered that the British Raj Government felt the need for this act.Hence, they introduced this act to counter the bubonic plague that spread across the Bombay Presidency in the 1890s.

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Under this Act, the colonial authorities forcefully quarantined, separated the infected suspect cases out of their homes and demolished the infected places to counter the plague. Many historians criticised this act as being inhuman to the infected person.

Earlier, during pre-independence, the outbreak of Spanish influenza in 1918 had taken 50 to 100 million lives globally and around 20 million alone in India, the report said. Referring to as ‘The Bombay Fever’, it arrived in India via the port of Bombay in May 1918.

Seven police sepoys at the Bombay docks were first to be hospitalised with a “non-malaria fever,” the report said. J.A. Turner, then Health Officer of the Bombay city, cited “the epidemic came to Bombay like a thief in the night.” Later, employees of various shipping firms fell ill. The disease later spread across India.

In 2009, Section 2 was imposed to counter the swine flu outbreak in Pune. The Authority opened screening centres in public hospitals and the disease was announced as a notifiable disease. In 2015, an act was enforced to tackle Dengue and Malaria in Chandigarh. Similarly, in 2018, Khedkarmsiya village in Gujarat was declared as a cholera-affected region by the district collector of Vadodara, Gujarat, after 31 complained about the symptoms of the disease.

For the time being, an antiviral spray has been created against the novel Coronavirus in Shanghai Public Health Clinical Centre, which could be applied into throat as shield from virus. The spray can greatly help to the medical-staff who is operating on the front-line. However, this novel Coronavirus may cause testicular damage and male infertility, Chinese experts found, recommending infected men take tests for semen quality and hormone levels.

Apparently, in India this could lead to social stigma. In Nagpur, a girl was not let enter the school because this father found positive of Coronavirus. This is surely an abridgement of Right to education. There are various cases reported across India where the families of the infected one, faced social boycott and mistreated by the hospital authority.

However, the people must understand that the mortality rate of Coronavirus is low, according to the World Health Organization report. The report also suggested that any virus is more contagious in nature has low mortality rate and vis-a-versa. The countryman must know the fact that those who died due to this had some previous medical problem regarding respiratory or with the immunity.

 By- Rahul Marchande


(The views expressed by the author in the article are his/her own.)

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