Centre issues fresh guidelines, asks states to clamp lockdown in high caseload areas

Express News Service
NEW DELHI: The Centre on Thursday asked states and Union Territories to immediately impose lockdowns in areas with high Covid spread. 

The government, however, did not make any mention of a national lockdown in its Covid guidelines for the month of May.

Through an order issued on Thursday evening, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) asked the states and UTs to take “the necessary containment measures” in view of ‘the unprecedented surge in Covid cases across the country”.

The fresh guidelines for COVID-19 management came amid a sudden spike in the number of cases and a shortage of beds, ICUs and oxygen in some parts of the country like Delhi.

The MHA asked the states and UTs to implement an “intensive, local and focused containment framework, in specific district/cities/areas” identified based on the criteria that it had prescribed in its earlier communication to the states and UTs.

In an advisory issued on April 25, the MHA had asked the states and UTs to identify districts where “either the tests positivity had been more than 10% or more in the last one week; or, where bed occupancy was more than 60%.” 

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The ministry reiterated the need to identify such districts, stating that such places which fulfilled “any of the above two criteria should be considered for taking intensive and local containment measures.”

The MHA also asked the states to consider the containment measures, as conveyed in an advisory issued by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare on April 25 for immediate implementation based on an assessment of the situation.

The implementation framework for community containment and large containment areas, as advised by the health ministry, has also been enclosed with the MHA order.

The guidelines for the pandemic come on a day when India registered a record 3,645 fatalities taking the total number of casualties from the pandemic to 2.04 lakh.

On the same day, the covid cases recorded a rise of 3,79,257 cases, pushing the number of active cases past the 30 lakh mark and taking the overall Covid tally to 1,83,76,524. 

According to the most recent data released by the government, the overall recovery rate has dipped to 82.10%.

The national directives for COVID-19 management shall continue to be strictly followed throughout the country, the statement said.

The MHA order shall be effective till May 31.

The home ministry said the focus will be on containment to flatten the current curve of the pandemic.

Movement of individuals shall be strictly prohibited during the night hours, except for essential activities, in areas where the number of cases is high.

Social, political, sports, entertainment, academic, cultural, religious, festival related and other gatherings and congregations have been prohibited.

Marriages will be attended by up to 50 people and funerals by up to 20.

Shopping complexes, cinema halls, restaurants, bars, sports complexes, gymnasiums, spas, swimming pools and religious places will remain closed.

Essential services and activities such as healthcare 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 shall continue.

Such services shall continue in both the public and the private sector.

Public transports like trains, metro, buses and taxis will operate at a maximum capacity of 50 per cent.

There shall be no restrictions on inter-state and intra-state movement, including transportation of essential goods.

All offices, both government and private, will function with a maximum of 50-per cent staff strength.

All industrial and scientific establishments may be allowed to operate subject to the workforce following the physical-distancing norms.

Referring to testing and surveillance, the guidelines said the districts will continue with the “Test-Track-Treat-Vaccinate” strategy and ensure COVID-appropriate behaviour.

The MHA said an analysis should be undertaken with respect to the requirement of health infrastructure so as to manage the present and projected cases (next one month) and necessary action initiated to ensure sufficient oxygen beds, ICU beds, ventilators, ambulances including creation of makeshift hospitals, as needed.

Sufficient quarantine facilities shall also be re-activated.

The states should leverage the government and private health facilities, including the hospitals available with the central ministries, railway coaches, temporary field hospitals etc.

They should ensure that only those satisfying the protocol for home isolation are allowed under home isolation and create a mechanism for their monitoring through call centres, along with regular visits by surveillance teams.

Specific monitoring shall be done for the high-risk cases and their timely shifting to a health facility.

Similarly, the elderly and co-morbid contacts of the positive cases shall be shifted to quarantine centres and monitored.

The states should also ensure availability of sufficient ambulances for the purpose and coordinate the availability of oxygen, other related logistics, drugs etc.

Oxygen therapy for the admitted cases shall follow the guidelines issued by the health ministry on a rational use of oxygen.

Use of investigative drugs (Remdesivir, Tocilizumab etc.) shall also strictly follow the clinical management protocol and the advisories issued by the health ministry.

The states should ensure 100 per cent vaccination for the eligible age-groups.

Details of hospital beds and their vacancy status should be made available online and also released to the media on a daily basis.

Details on the availability of oxygen, drugs, vaccine and vaccination centres, including the guidelines related to the use of Remdesivir, Tocilizumab etc. be also widely publicised, the MHA stated.

(With PTI Inputs)