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    COVID-19 guidelines to remain in force till Jan 31

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    MHA urges caution on new year celebrations

    The Centre on Monday maintained the COVID-19 restrictions on various activities, noting that while there has been a continuous decline in active cases in India, there is a need for surveillance, containment and caution due to a surge globally and the emergence of a new variant of the virus in the UK.

    In a statement, the ministry of home affairs (MHA) said it has issued fresh guidelines for surveillance with regard to COVID-19 that will remain in force till January 31, as it asked the states and union territories to keep a strict vigil to prevent any rise in cases during the New Year celebrations and the winter season. It also asked the states and UTs to actively support central authorities in the preparations for an expected vaccination drive.

    The ministry said a focussed approach on surveillance and containment and a strict observance of the guidelines and SOPs issued by it and the health ministry, as envisaged in the guidelines issued last month, need to be enforced by the states and union territories.

    “Strict vigil is also needed to be maintained to prevent any fresh surge in cases in wake of upcoming New Year celebrations and ongoing winter season which are favourable for the spread of the virus. In this regard, appropriate measures may be taken by the state and UT governments,” it said on Monday.

    The guidelines issued last month had said all activities were allowed outside the containment zones except for the following, which were permitted with certain restrictions, international air travel of passengers as permitted by the MHA, cinema halls and theatres with up to 50 per cent capacity, swimming pools, only for the training of sportspersons, exhibition halls, only for business-to-business (B2B) purposes.

    Social, religious, sports, entertainment, educational, cultural, religious gatherings with a maximum of 50 per cent of the hall capacity and with a ceiling of 200 people in closed spaces were allowed by keeping the size of the ground and space in view, in open spaces.

    There shall be no restriction on the inter-state and intra-state movement of people and goods, including those for cross-land border trade under treaties with neighbouring countries. No separate permission, approval, e-permit will be required for such movements.

    Noting that the Centre has started preparations for administration and roll-out of vaccine for COVID- 19, the MHA said on Monday that the National Expert Group on Vaccine Administration for COVID-19 (NEGVAC) has recommended prioritisation of this vaccine during the initial phases to health care workers, frontline workers, persons aged 50 years and above and those below 50 years of age with comorbidities.

    According to the existing guidelines, the local district, police and municipal authorities shall be responsible to ensure that the prescribed containment measures are strictly followed.

    The states and UTs will ensure a careful demarcation of containment zones by the district authorities at the micro level, taking into consideration the guidelines prescribed by the health ministry in this regard.

    Within the demarcated containment zones, containment measures as prescribed by the health ministry shall be scrupulously followed.

    Surveillance for Influenza-like infections (ILI), Severe Acute Respiratory Infections (SARI) cases shall be carried out in health facilities or outreach mobile units or through fever clinics in buffer zones.

    The guidelines said the state and UT governments shall take all necessary measures to promote COVID-19 appropriate behaviour and to ensure strict enforcement of wearing of face masks, hand hygiene and social distancing.

    In order to enforce the core requirement of wearing of face masks, states and UTs may consider administrative actions, including the imposition of appropriate fines, on violators in public and workspaces.

    India’s COVID-19 caseload rose to 1,02,07,871 with 20,021 infections being reported in a day, while recoveries have surged to 97.82 lakh, according to Union health ministry data updated on Monday. The number of people who have recuperated from the disease surged to 97,82,669, pushing the national recovery rate to 95.83 percent, while the COVID-19 case fatality rate stands at 1.45 per cent. The COVID-19 active caseload remained below three lakh for the seventh consecutive day.

    The country’s COVID-19 tally had crossed the 20-lakh mark on August 7, 30 lakh on August 23, 40 lakh on September 5 and 50 lakh on September 16. It went past 60 lakh on September 28, 70 lakh on October 11, 80 lakh on October 29, 90 lakh on November 20 and crossed the one-crore mark on December 19.

    The 1,47,901 deaths reported so far in the country include 49,255 from Maharashtra followed by 12,069 from Tamil Nadu, 12,062 from Karnataka, 10,453 from Delhi, 9,598 from West Bengal, 8,306 from Uttar Pradesh, 7,094 from Andhra Pradesh and 5,299 from Punjab.

    The health ministry said that more than 70 per cent of the deaths occurred due comorbidities.


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