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Focus on test-track-treat protocol: MHA to states

New Delhi Amid a spike in coronavirus cases, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) on Tuesday issued fresh guidelines, directing all states and Union territories to enhance RT-PCR tests, ensure strict enforcement of test-track-treat protocol and increase the pace of vaccination to cover all priority groups
UPDATED ON MAR 24, 2021 12:28 AM IST

New Delhi Amid a spike in coronavirus cases, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) on Tuesday issued fresh guidelines, directing all states and Union territories to enhance RT-PCR tests, ensure strict enforcement of test-track-treat protocol and increase the pace of vaccination to cover all priority groups.

While the Centre did not consider imposing another fresh lockdown to keep the economy running, it is important that citizens follow coronavirus-related appropriate behavior such as wearing masks, maintaining social distance and hand hygiene, people familiar with the developments said.

“…to ensure that the resumption of activities is successful and to fully overcome the pandemic, there is need to strictly follow the prescribed containment strategy, and strictly observe the guideline issued by MHA and Ministry of Health & Family Welfare (MOHFW) and other ministries/departments of the central government and state/ UT governments,” the guidelines released by the ministry said.

In its latest guidelines, the ministry announced that all fresh cases will require to be isolated or quarantined at the earliest and provided timely treatment. All contacts of the infected cases will also have to be traced quickly and isolated, it added.

Considering a surge in Covid-19 cases (over 40,000 cases were reported on Tuesday), the new guidelines made it mandatory for states and UTs to strictly enforce the ‘test-track-treat’ protocol, emphasizing that the proportion of RT-PCR tests should be increased to proscribed level of 70% or more.

Based on the positive cases and tracking of their contacts, containment zones shall be carefully demarcated by the district authorities at the micro level, the ministry said.

Expressing concerns over the uneven vaccination in several states, the ministry said: “The vaccination against Covid-19, in the present scenario, is critical to break the chain of transmission and hence all state and union territory governments should rapidly step up the pace of vaccination to cover all priority groups in an expeditious manner.”

The Centre allowed states to impose their own local restrictions like night curfew or weekend restrictions in the district, sub-district or city level, based on the situation, but added that there won’t be restriction on any inter-state and intra-state movement.

It also directed states to impose appropriate fines on those not wearing masks in public as well as work spaces.

All activities have been permitted outside containment zones and standard operating procedures (SOPs) have been prescribed for various activities. These include movement by passenger trains, air travel, metro trains, schools, higher educational institutions, hotels and restaurants, shopping malls, multiplexes and entertainment parks, yoga centres and gymnasiums, exhibitions, assemblies and congregations, the guidelines said.

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