New Delhi, March 21: In the wake of recent cases where people ran away from isolations wards or did not go into self-quarantine after their return for coronavirus-hit countries, the government said states are empowered to take strict action against those defying guidelines. If a person flees the isolation ward, he/she may face jail up to six months along with a fine, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare said. Coronavirus Outbreak Live News Updates.

To prevent the spread of coronavirus, those returning from foreign countries have been asked to self-quarantine for 14 days. However, a number of incidents of people not adhering to the important guidelines emerged. Besides, some people ran away from isolation wards and police had to track them down. "We have empowered states to use stringent provisions of the law to ensure people do not break quarantine and spread the disease," a health ministry official was quoted by TOI as saying. Coronavirus Outbreak in India: Prepare Isolation Facilities, Don't Decline Admission to Any Patient, Government Tells Hospitals as COVID-19 Cases Rise.

"Observing quarantine and maintaining social distancing are crucial to managing this kind of infectious disease," the official added. States can book a person who defies self-quarantine or runs away from isolation under Section 10 of the Epidemic Disease Act and Section 10 of the Disaster Management Act. The accused will face up to six months of imprisonment or Rs 1,000 fine or both, depending upon the violation.

While these laws have already been invoked by the Centre, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has written to states to enforce these provisions. The ministry reported 258 cases of coronavirus on Saturday. "Cases have increased progressively and social distancing is, therefore, important to stop this chain of transmission," Lav Agarwal, Joint Secretary in the ministry, said.

(The above story first appeared on LatestLY on Mar 21, 2020 12:13 PM IST. For more news and updates on politics, world, sports, entertainment and lifestyle, log on to our website