Centre issues fresh guidelines for Covid-hit districts

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on April 26, 2021

Areas reporting more than 10 per cent positivity in a week or where 60 per cent of oxygen and ICU beds are already occupied to be demarcated as containment zones

The government on Sunday issued fresh guidelines to the States and Union Territories on how to demarcate containment zones in districts reporting either more than 10 per cent positivity in a week or where 60 per cent of oxygen and ICU beds are already occupied, Health Ministry said in an official statement.

These guidelines issued in the aftermath of the country reporting a spike in daily Covid-19 cases in recent days, specify that States should appoint a senior official as nodal officer, who would work closely with the District Collector or Municipal Commissioner to deal with the situation.

Apart from strictly implementing Covid-appropriate measures, the States, working with the district administration, should declare areas with a high number of cases as local containment zones to prevent intermingling of people for a period of 14 days so as to break the chain of transmission.

The States have been told to classify districts requiring intensive action and local containment on a weekly basis and the information should be made available online, besides being publicised in the media.

The areas requiring intensive action and local containment connote specific and well-defined geographical units such as cities, towns, parts of towns, district headquarters, semi-urban localities, municipal wards, or panchayat areas, the statement said.

Nodal officers

The local containment will essentially focus on three strategic areas of intervention -- containment, clinical management and community engagement. As the situation is dynamic, the State needs to undertake a daily review at the highest levels. Once districts, parts of districts, towns, parts of towns are identified for intensive and local containment, the State should appoint senior officials as nodal officers who would be stationed in these districts for 14 days for effective monitoring and implementation.

These nodal officers in consultation with the concerned District Collector and Municipal Commissioners should identify the area to be taken up for local containment based on clusters of cases reported. They should submit details of all such areas identified for local containment to the State government for approval. The District Collector or Municipal Commissioner should undertake a daily status review, including analysing details of case trajectory, day-to-day operational planning, and implementation of various activities as per the field level feedback. These daily review reports should be submitted to the State government, which in turn should be consolidated at the State level and sent to the Centre.

If needed, the State will have the freedom to consider a graded response in accordance with local situation, requirement and resources.

The strategies that need to be followed include insisting on Covid-appropriate behaviour, restricting mass gatherings, public health measures to contain the virus, and quarantining and testing individuals suspected to be positive, including contacts of Covid-19 positive persons, SARI cases and persons with flu-like symptoms.

Night Curfew

The statement said night curfew should be imposed in containment zones and the local administration will have the power to decide on the duration of curfew.

Any social, political, sports, entertainment, academic, cultural, religious and festival-related gatherings shall be prohibited. Marriage functions cannot have more than 50 participants, while only 20 people can attend funerals. Besides, all shopping complexes, cinema halls, restaurants, bars, sports complexes, gyms, spas, swimming pool and religious places will remain closed.

However, essential services and activities such as healthcare services, police, fire, banks, electricity, water and sanitation, and regulated movement of public transport can continue. Public transport (railways, metros, buses, cabs) would 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 staff strength of 50 per cent. All industrial and scientific establishments, both government and private, may be allowed subject to the workforce following physical distancing norms. They shall also be tested through rapid antigen test from time to time.

The restrictions in local containment zones will continue for 14 days. However, before declaring an area containment zone, the administration will have to make a public announcement, outlining the rationale as well as intimating the public about the kind of restrictions that would be in place.

The districts with high prevalence of cases will continue with the strategy of test-track-treat- vaccinate. Additional vaccination centres can be opened to ensure the coverage of 100 per cent eligible beneficiaries.

Published on April 25, 2021

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