K’taka staff warned of action for ignoring contact-tracing

According to Section 56, officials shall face imprisonment of up to one year, unless they have obtained "written permission" of a superior official or other lawful excuse to not carry out work assigned to them under the Act.

Bengaluru: In view of the surging coronavirus cases in Karnataka, Chief Secretary T.M. Vijaya Bhaskar on Tuesday warned 1,246 state employees of action if they ignored the assigned work of tracing contacts of positive patients, which is important to control the pandemic.

“As contact-tracing is a very important part of controlling the spread of Covid-19, any disobedience in following the order will attract punishment under Section 56 of the Disaster Management Act, 2005,” Bhaskar said in an official order in Kannada.

The A, B and C Group employees from various departments were deployed to speed up contact-tracing due to shortage of manpower and told to report to task force head V. Manjula, a senior IAS officer.

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According to Section 56, officials shall face imprisonment of up to one year, unless they have obtained “written permission” of a superior official or another lawful excuse to not carry out work assigned to them under the Act.

“Failure of an officer in duty or his connivance at the contravention of the provision of this Act is punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to 1 year or with fine,” says Section 56.

In a related development, Medical Education Minister K. Sudhakar warned of criminal cases against private hospitals which refuse to treat coronavirus patients in the state.

With COVID cases surging by the day and state-run hospitals running out of beds, the Karnataka government has directed private hospitals across the state to keep 50 per cent of their beds reserved for corona infected patients on priority.

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“No hospital can refuse to admit patients for corona treatment and if anyone is found doing it, legal action will be taken against them. Citizens can register their complaints at 1912 helpline,” asserted Sudhakar.

Karnataka has set up fever clinics and COVID care centres in addition to designated state-run hospitals and even roped in private hospitals, medical colleges and corporate hospitals for treating corona patients across the state.

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