Disclosing identity of COVID patients an offence: Odisha govt

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Bhubaneswar: The state government Saturday barred the media from revealing the identity of persons infected with coronavirus (COVID-19) and made it an offence which could put the person concerned in jail for doing so.
The panel of designated officials entrusted with the task to update the media on coronavirus Saturday said that it has made reporting on identity of patients, their relatives and medical staff attending them an offence under Section 188 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).

The officials also said that those sharing the information relating to the identity of the affected persons in any media, including social media, will be booked under the law. Revealing this chief spokesperson for coronavirus Subroto Bagchi said, “No media shall publish the name and address of the person infected/affected with COVID-19 Virus, his /her parents, relatives, the doctor treating the patient and the assisting medical staff, obtained through any source, in any print/electronic/web/social media.”

“No media shall interview any patient infected with COVID-19, his/her parents/relatives/treating doctors, assisting medical staff, in any form,” he added.

The government informed the media that any person disobeying any regulation or order made under the provisions will be deemed to have committed an offence punishable under Section 188 of IPC (45 of 1860) as per Section 3 of the Epidemic Disease Act-1897. As per the norms, violation of the Section 188 of IPC makes person fit for jail term ranging from one month to six months.

The state government issued the regulations/advisory for prevention of Novel Corona Virus Disease (COVID-19) under Section 2 of the Epidemic Disease Act-1897 and in conformity with Rule-17 of guidelines issued by the Press Council of India.

Rule 17 of the guidelines of the Press Council of India (PCI) says, “Newspapers shall restraint and caution in presenting any news, comment or information which is likely to jeopardise, endanger or harm the chief interests of the State and society. Publication of wrong/incorrect map is a very serious offence. It adversely affects the territorial integrity of the country and warrants prompt and prominent retraction with regrets.”

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