With a consistent decline in the daily Covid cases, the government, on Wednesday revoked the provisions of the Disaster Management Act (DM Act) for Covid containment measures from March 31.

Based on the recommendations of the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) to not invoke the provisions of the DM Act beyond March 31, Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla wrote to all States/UTs to discontinue the orders issued under the Act. The Centre had invoked the provisions of DM Act in March 2020 to take effective Covid containment measures. It was last re-issued on February 25, 2022.

The DM Act was enacted in 2005 when the country was hit by a Tsunami in 2004, which led to loss of thousands of lives. The Act provides a legal framework for disaster management in the country, with the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) as the nodal Ministry.

The decision to end Covid curbs comes at a time when neighbouring countries such as China are still battling a resurgence in the Omicron variant. However, the Centre has advised all States/UTs to continue with mask-wearing and maintaining hand hygiene.

“Over the last 24 months, significant capacities have been developed for various aspects of management of the pandemic, such as diagnostics, surveillance, contact tracing, treatment and vaccination, hospital infrastructure, and the general public has much higher level of awareness on Covid-appropriate behaviour,” the official letter stated.

There has been a steep drop in daily Covid cases over the last seven weeks, with the daily positivity rate coming down to 0.28 per cent. Also, the Centre has so far administered more than 181.56 crore of vaccine doses against the virus, according to the letter.

Caution needed, still

But the Centre cautioned States/UTs against the unpredictable nature of Covid, and asked them to remain vigilant. “Whenever any surge in the number of cases is observed, States/UTs may consider taking prompt and proactive action at local level, as advised by the Health Ministry from time to time.”

In a separate letter, Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan said State/UTs must continue with the advisory issued by the Health Ministry on February 18 for testing, surveillance and containment-based restrictions, keeping the district as the unit for decision making. “Focus will be on graded relaxation of activities to support the economic activities. Social/sports/entertainment/academic-related gatherings may resume. The decision to be taken by the States concerned,” said the letter.

On Wednesday, India reported 1,778 Covid cases with 62 deaths in the 24 hours ended 8 am om Wednesday, according to Health Ministry data. The weekly positivity and the daily positivity rate stood at 0.36 per cent and 0.26 per cent, respectively.