Goa to invoke epidemic act to tackle swine flu


Panaji : Goa will invoke the Epidemic control Act (ECA), 1897, to curb the spread of influenza A (H1N1) once the state’s busy tourism season gets underway in October, Health Minister Vishwajeet Rane said Wednesday.

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Rane’s announcement comes barely a day after the Maharashtra government invoked the act in Pune and Satara districtS after a 14-year-old Pune schoolgirl died of swine flu.

“Maharashtra has invoked the act because there are thousands of international guests arriving at its (Mumbai) airport. We don’t feel it is required for Goa at this moment. But once the tourist season starts we will put this act into effect,” Rane told reporters here.

The epidemic act gives health authorities the power to forcibly admit and treat any swine flu patient at a government-run hospital.

“If this (swine flu) is not controlled worldwide, Goa will have to enforce the act once the tourist season starts,” Rane said, adding that Goa receives tourists from all over the world, including from countries particularly affected by swine flu.

After the terror strikes in Mumbai last year eclipsed Goa’s tourist season, the swine flu pandemic could possibly deplete the arrivals in 2009-10. Goa receives nearly two million tourists in an average year, out of which about 400,000 are foreigners.

There are presently seven swine flu patients under quarantine in Goa.

Recently, the state nodal officer for swine flu Rajendra Tamba was transferred to a rural dispensary after he questioned the efficiency and the will of the state health department when it came to handling the swine flu outbreak.