Winner's Essay:Pandemic Crisis & Human Rights

-Sudhanshu Shekhar

Amity Law School, Lucknow



COVID -19

A Pandemic is the rapid spread of a disease among large section of the population within a short span of time. Several pandemics have occurred in the past such as Smallpox , Plague , 2009 Influenza Pandemic. The most recent of them is the COVID-19 pandemic . Covid-19 is an infectious diseasewhich spread between people during close contact . It spreads most often via small droplets which are produced as a result of sneezing , coughing , talking.The usual onset period for this is 2-14 days although it may spread among people before the onset of symptoms. The usual symptoms for this disease include fever , cough , fatigue , loss of smell and taste. It may result in multi-organ failure , pneumonia which might be fatal in the long run. As of now about 3.39 million cases have been recorded and about 1.06 million have recovered . About 50,000 people are in the critical situation category. The major way in which we can prevent the disease from spreading is by frequent hand wash , maintaining physical distance , covering coughs. Covering face is a very effective way to stop the spread of the disease and as such a lot of face masks are being distributed among the common public at a highly subsidized rate. Vaccine or specific Antiviral treatment does not exist for COVID-19 as of now. The best way to manage this disease is through isolation & supportive care.

COVID-19 IN CONTEXT OF WORLD

On World stage this disease has caused death of thousands of people. About244,417 people have died across the world with maximum deaths in U.S.A which is close to 67,248.The most number of cases have occurred in U.S.A which is about 1,157,425. In second place is Spain which has recorded 245,567 cases& in third is Italy which has recorded209,328 cases.Covid-19 has affected 212 countries of the world. This virus was first detected in Wuhan, China and was reported to WHO country office in China on December 31, 2019. The virus was declared a Public Health Emergency of International Concern on January 30,2020.

Considering US which has recorded most number of deaths. The first case here was recorded on January 20 . The first case was of a man who had returned from Wuhan, China to Washington. In Us a public health emergency was declared by Trump Administration and on February 2 a ban on all nationals travelling from China was imposed. Later in March travel restrictions on people travelling from Iran and European countries was imposed. President Donald Trump was optimistic, dismissing the threat posed by coronavirus and claiming the outbreak was under control. Although the conditions were much worse and with Trump's inability to recognize the threat immediatelysituations became out of control. Centre for Disease control And Prevention told the American public to prepare for a local outbreak. A national emergency was declared in America on March 13. The Food and Drug Administration began to allow private enterprises such as private health care units to test the people for the virus symptoms. The new awareness among people and agencies has reduced the effect of corona upto some extent.

COVID-19 IN CONTEXT OF INDIA

First case of corona in India came on January 30 and since then 40,000 cases have been recorded with about 1300 deaths. The number of corona cases could be much higher as a lot of cases are not registered as India's testing rate is among the lowest in the world. The fatality rate for India is 3.24%. An epidemic crisis has been declared and as such provisions mentioned in the Epidemic Diseases Act (1897) has been imposed under which commercial establishments and educational institutions have been shut down. On March 22 there was a 14hour public curfew as an initiative of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.Following this all major cities and 75 districts were put under lockdown. On March 24 a national lockdown was announced for 21 days. On April 14 the lockdown was further extended upto May 3.Lockdown slowed the rate of spread of the pandemic and the rate of doubling after April 18 was 8 days. WHO in its statement mentioned that India had great responsibility to deal with corona outbreak as it is the second most populous country in the world and success in India would be a successful measure for entire world. The main cause of trouble due to lockdown is the economic crisis which has great impact on small enterprises, informal workers, farmers. These class of people are left with no means of livelihood due to absence of transportation facilities & their inability to access market. On March 3 Indian Government stopped using new visas as most of the corona cases was reported among foreign nationals or people returning to India from foreign location. The Indians returning from corona affected countries were placed in a mandatory quarantine of 14 days.Ministry of Health and Family Welfareannounced compulsory screening and a statement saying that 589,000 people were screened at airport.1 million were screened at Nepal border and 27,000 were under surveillance. Lockdown has played a major role in control of corona. As the end of first lockdown approached several state governments requested the Centre to extend the lockdown further and as such the lockdown was extended till May 3. On May 1 the government extended the lockdown further until May 17. Government divided the entire nation into the zones Green zone , Orange zone &Red zone and relaxations will be allowed accordingly.

HUMAN RIGHTS ISSUES AMID CRISIS

Very often a Pandemic affects the human right of million of people. Censorship, arbitrary detention and other human rights infringement takes place during a Pandemic. But these hinder the efforts to control the pandemic. Some of the human rights which is at stake during this pandemic is as follows-

Censorship

Chinese authorities engaged in a number of activities to suppress information about the virus and its threat. When doctors in late December shared information about the virus they were silenced and punished for spreading fake rumour. Chinese authorities tried to minimize the danger by controlling the news of spread of the virus but in turn the virus spread rapidly and it was not useful to contain the news regarding it.

Right To Health

The medical facilities in Wuhan are so overwhelmed that the system is struggling to deal with the current situation. Many of the patients are being turned away from hospitals. It is true that containing the Epidemic is important but proper prevention and treatment are also important. People are unable to quickly get to the hospital due to public transportation shutdown and even are unable to remove the body of dead people from their home.

Activists Are Harassed And Intimidated

People trying to share information about Corona virus on social media are being harassed. For instance, Wuhan resident Fang Bin was put behind bars when he posted a video showing corpses of corona victims in a hospital in Wuhan. Also the outspoken citizen journalist Chen Qiushi was harassed for posting videos on the condition of hospitals in Wuhan. Therefore anyone who is considered a threat is being punished.

My Take on the ongoing Pandemic situation & Human Rights is that We have to unite in this time of crisis, committing Human Rights violation would only severe the problem as it would lead to fear in public and their sense of unity & faith in government decisions would break which might result in greater casualties. There should be no discrimination and everyone should follow the decisions of the government. We have a collective responsibility towards the future of the world.

NOTE

· All data mentioned in the document in until May 4 , 2020.

· The data in the document has been obtained from trusted sources such as AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL REPORTS , WHO OFFICIAL SITE , OFFICIAL DECLARATION BY HEALTH DEPARTMENT OF MENTIONED REGIONS.

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