In an endeavour to ensure safety of healthcare staff during Covid-19, Rajya Sabha, the Upper House, passed the Epidemic Diseases (Amendment) Bill, 2020 recently.
The Bill has provision for up to five years in jail for attacks on doctors and healthcare workers fighting the outbreak. Commission or abetment of acts of violence will be punishable with an imprisonment for a term of three months to five years, and with a fine of Rs 50,000 to Rs 2,00,000, a TOI report states.
“Many healthcare workers including doctors, paramedics were insulted in some form or the other, due to the stigma attached to Covid-19. The central government acted on this situation and found that there was a need for a law, a prohibitory mechanism against such incidents,” Health Minister Harsh Vardhan was quoted saying in the Upper House.
The bill will replace an ordinance brought in by the government in April to ensure zero tolerance for any violence against healthcare workers. The Cabinet promulgated The Epidemic Diseases (Amendment) Ordinance 2020 to amend the Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897, to provide protection to healthcare service personnel and property, including their living and working premises, against violence during epidemics.