Amidst the chaos that the COVID-19 outbreak has brought in, the fear that the virus will move to the stage of community transmission is being dreaded by the entire country. Due to the growing unrest and unavailability of mass screenings and checking, the number of cases is rising day by day and has created a situation of perpetual fear in the country. As the number of cases climbed up to 418 as on 23rd March, regulations have been imposed by the government and several state governments have announced a lockdown till the end of this month.
The worst-hit out of all states is Maharashtra where the toll has risen to around eighty-nine cases and in order to prevent further positive cases, the State government has imposed Section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) which empowers a district magistrate or any other executive magistrate to issue orders in urgent cases of nuisance or of imminent danger. The right to peacefully assemble is curtained by this provision and is rightfully imposed as the death toll in India rises to eight cases.
The government on 22nd March had announced total lockdown in seventy-five districts around India. However, essential services would be allowed to continue during this period so that the people are not deprived of daily essentials and do not hoard up supplies. This lockdown has been foisted not only in districts in Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh but also in Punjab and Kerala, where there has been a surge of coronavirus cases. The lockdown will be strictly imposed and strict legal action would be taken against those barring these restrictions.
A fine of Rs 1000 or imprisonment of six months or both would be imposed under Section 188 of the IPC against those disobeying these regulations. States have declared that essential services would not be hampered like hospitals, medical stores, grocery and vegetable shops, etc.
However, a WHO emergency expert had excerpted that simply locking down people in societies would not defeat the coronavirus. What is essential is that those who are sick and have been inflicted by the virus must be identified and isolated so that it is not spread from them to others. The expert stated that what is essential is that strong public health measures to test every possible suspect are taken so that the disease does not jump back up in order to suppress the transmission.