Declare coronavirus a contagious disease: HC to health ministry
07:37 PM, March 18, 2020 / LAST MODIFIED: 07:56 PM, March 18, 2020

Declare coronavirus a contagious disease: HC to health ministry

The High Court today directed the health ministry to issue a gazette notification by tomorrow declaring coronavirus a contagious disease and including the virus in the list of communicable diseases.

The health secretary has been asked to issue the gazette notification and include the coronavirus in the list made under the Communicable Diseases (Prevention, Control and Eradication) Act, 2018.

The court also asked the deputy attorney general concerned to collect information from the directorate of health services about the steps taken by the government to tackle the outbreak of the coronavirus and to place the information before it tomorrow.

The bench of Justice Md Ashraful Kamal and Justice Sardar Md Rashed Jahangir came up with the order during a hearing on a writ petition filed by rights organisation Law and Life Foundation.

The court also fixed tomorrow for resuming hearing on the petition. 

Writ petitioner's counsel Barrister Humayun Kabir Pallab told The Daily Star that if coronavirus is included in the communicable disease list, those infected will be kept under isolation and quarantine, and be treated under legal procedures.

Besides, international organisations including the United Nations and World Health Organisation will treat Bangladesh as a coronavirus-affected country and may take necessary measures, he said.

The law has empowered the government to include the names of "emerging or reemerging" diseases in the list through issuing a gazette notification, Kabir added.

Earlier in the day, Law and Life Foundation filed the writ petition with the HC, seeking directives on the authorities concerned to close all the courts across the country to contain the spread of coronavirus and to keep people coming from abroad in state-designated quarantines.

The organisation, in the petition, also prayed to the HC to ask the government to form a high-powered monitoring committee to examine whether the quarantine centres were being run properly.

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