MHA extends Covid guidelines till Sept 30, directs localised measures ahead of festive season
The Centre on Saturday extended all existing coronavirus disease (Covid-19)-related protocol in India up to September 30. Noting that the overall pandemic situation in India now appears to be "largely stable, except for the localised spread of the virus in few states”, the Union ministry of home affairs (MHA) directed the concerned state governments to take pro-active containment measures ahead of the upcoming festival season in the country.
An official order in this regard was issued by home secretary Ajay Bhalla and sent to the chief secretaries of all states. In it, the government said that the earlier order regarding the implementation of Covid-19 protocols, which was issued on June 29, will now be enforced up to September 30. The Centre expressed concern over the fact that the total number of active cases and the case positivity rate in some districts across the country continue to remain on the higher side.
India on Saturday recorded 46,759 new cases of coronavirus disease (Covid-19), the highest single-day increase in nearly two months. Saturday’s numbers indicated a trend that has been visible over the past week to anyone studying these numbers—a nationwide surge in cases driven primarily by a recent spike in Covid-19 cases in Kerala. According to the Union ministry of health and family welfare, the southern state now accounts for more than half of all the active Covid-19 cases in the country, followed closely by Maharashtra.
"The state governments/UT administrations concerned, having high positivity in their districts, should take pro-active containment measures so as to effectively arrest the spike in cases and to contain the spread of transmission," the MHA letter read. "It is important to identify the warning signs of potential surges early on and to take appropriate measures to curb the spread. This would require a localised approach, as has been mentioned in the Union ministry of health and family welfare (MoHFW) advisories dated 25.04.2021 and 28.06.2021."
Pointing out the upcoming festive season across several states in India, the government further advised the state governments and UT administrations to ensure that there are no large gatherings. If required, necessary local restrictions should be imposed in potentially crowded places, where people must follow Covid-19 appropriate behaviour. "We need to continue focus on the five-fold strategy, that is, Test-Track-Treat-Vaccination and adherence to Covid appropriate behaviour for effective management of Covid-19," the government letter read.
The Centre noted that weekly enforcement data, received from the state governments regarding the enforcement of Covid-19 appropriate behaviour, suggests that there is a "downward trend" in the enforcement of face masks in public, the maintaining of social distancing norms, imposition of fines, and the likes. The MHA advised the state governments to augment their respective efforts in this regard.
"Further, it must be ensured that areas having no virus or low virus transmission are adequately protected by progressively ramping up testing and other measures like the ILI/SARI surveillance, market surveillance, etc," the home secretary said. Warning no laxity in the enforcement of these measures, the MHA official said that the officers concerned will be made "personally responsible" for any leniency in meeting these instructions.