Can declare districts containment zones: Centre

Focus will be on containment as a major approach to flatten the current curve of the disease.
The State Nodal Officer should submit details of all such areas identified for local containment to the state government for approval.(Himanshu Vyas/ Hindustan Times)
The State Nodal Officer should submit details of all such areas identified for local containment to the state government for approval.(Himanshu Vyas/ Hindustan Times)
Updated on Apr 26, 2021 12:28 AM IST
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By, Hindustan Times, New Delhi

The Centre has asked the states to declare cities, towns or districts reporting high disease burden as containment zones that would include those with a test positivity rate of 10% or more in the past one week, or bed occupancy of more than 60% on either oxygen-supported or intensive care unit beds, and impose measures such as night curfews.

Focus will be on containment as a major approach to flatten the current curve of the disease.

In a letter written to the states on Sunday, Union health secretary Rajesh Bhushan said, “...fulfilling any one of the above two criteria should be considered for taking intensive action and local containment measures… primarily focusing on restricting intermingling of people for a period of 14 days for breaking the chain of transmission duly following epidemiological principles. Classification of districts requiring intensive action and local containment may be undertaken by the state on a weekly basis…”

The State Nodal Officer should submit details of all such areas identified for local containment to the state government for approval.

Intensive containment measures would include night curfew, which means movement of individuals shall be strictly prohibited during night hours, except for essential activities. The local administration shall decide the duration of the night curfew hours and issue orders, in the entire area of their jurisdiction, under appropriate provisions of law, and ensure strict compliance.

Social, political, sports, entertainment, academic, cultural, religious, festival-related and other gatherings and congregations will be prohibited. All shopping complexes, cinema halls, restaurants and bars, sports complexes, gyms, spas, swimming pools and religious places will remain closed.

Essential services and activities such as health care services, police, fire, banks, electricity, water and sanitation, regulated movement of public transport including all incidental services and activities needed for a smooth functioning of these activities will be allowed in both the public and the private sector.

Public transport (railways, metros, buses, cabs) will operate at a maximum capacity of 50%; and there will be no restrictions on interstate and intrastate movement, including transportation of essential goods.

The restrictions will continue for a period of 14 days.

However, the Centre has asked states to make a public announcement, outlining the rationale for the same and the kind of restrictions that will be in place by also distributing a leaflet in the local language, if possible, highlighting the gravity of the situation and restrictions to be followed, before declaring a containment area.

All offices, both government and private, will function with a maximum staff strength of 50%. All industrial and scientific establishments, both government and private will be allowed subject to the workforce following physical distancing norms. They shall also be tested through rapid antigen test, in case of individuals identified with flu-like symptoms, from time to time.

Weddings (attended by up to 50 persons) and funerals or last rites (attended by up to 20 persons) will be allowed.

All these measures will be in conjunction with the Centre’s fivefold strategy of test, track, isolate, treat, vaccinate strategy.

A daily status report will be submitted by the district and municipal authorities to the state, and also shared with the central government on a regular basis.

“A very high number of daily new Covid cases are being reported for the past few days. Considering this unprecedented surge, there is an urgent need for states to consider strict Covid management and control measures in surge areas to bring the situation under control,” the health secretary said in his letter.

Experts in the field of epidemiology agreed.

“The transmission rate is already high in some states. The reproduction number is 3.01 in Bihar, 2.81 in UP, over 2 in 8 other states. We need to implement aggressive containment strategy in avoiding 3 Cs: Crowd prevention and control strategies along with enforcement of masks and physical distancing closed spaces and close contact settings,” said Dr Giridhara R Babu, head, epidemiology, Indian Institute of Public Health.

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    Rhythma Kaul works as an assistant editor at Hindustan Times. She covers health and related topics, including ministry of health and family welfare, government of India.

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Thursday, May 19, 2022