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India

Updated on: Monday, December 27, 2021, 02:07 PM IST

Centre extends COVID-19 national directives till Jan 31, asks states to impose district-level curbs

(PTI Photo)

(PTI Photo)

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Amidst initial signs of surge in cases of COVID-19 as well as increased detection of Omicron variant in different parts of the country, the Centre on Monday issued a fresh advisory to all States and UTs to deal with the pandemic situation.

The Centre on Monday directed the governments in states and union territories to strictly follow the existing national directives for COVID-19 management throughout the country till January 31, 2022.

The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) on Monday directed all the States and the Union Territories (UTs) to observe all precautions, and not let the guard down.

The Ministry of Home Affairs in a letter to the Chief Secretaries of states and UTs stressed that there is a "need for greater foresight, data analysis, dynamic decision making, and strict and prompt containment actions at the local and district levels" in view of existing COVID-19 situation.

In the letter, Union Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla asked state governments not to let their guard down and impose need-based curbs to tackle the COVID-19 threat, arising especially due to the Omicron variant.

In a letter issued to Chief Secretaries of all states, Union Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla on Monday stressed the need for "greater foresight, data analysis, dynamic decision making, and strict and prompt containment actions at the local and district levels, based on the assessment of the situation".

The Home Secretary asked the Chief Secretaries to issue necessary directions to the districts and all other local authorities concerned, to take necessary measures for prompt and effective management of COVID-19, strict compliance with various advisories issued by the MoHFW on the new VOC, and strict enforcement of COVID appropriate behaviour.

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“I would like to reiterate that all the states and UTs must observe all precautions, and not let their guard down. States may consider imposing need-based, local curbs/restrictions, to control the crowd during the festive season,” Bhalla wrote in the letter.

The Home Secretary emphasized that there should be a continued focus on the five-fold strategy-- Test-Track-Treat-Vaccination and adherence to COVID Appropriate Behaviour-- to avoid the possibility of a surge in COVID-19 cases, especially keeping in view the new VOC.
He further suggested that the state enforcement machinery should strictly enforce the norms of COVID appropriate behaviour such as wearing face masks and maintaining safe social distancing in all public areas or gatherings.
Bhalla said that state governments should ensure that the health systems in the states are strengthened to meet any challenge posed by the new variant.
Further, the Home Secretary stressed, the state governments and UT administrations should ensure that oxygen supply equipment are installed and are fully functional and the buffer stock of essential drugs should also be maintained.
"I would like to reiterate that all the States/UTs must observe all precautions, and not let the guard down," said Bhalla.
He suggested that local and district administrations, based on the normative framework and assessment of the situation, should promptly take appropriate containment measures.
Noting that, the country has witnessed an overall decline in active cases, Bhalla said the new variant Omicron (designated as a VOC by the World Health Organisation (WHO) on November 26, 2021), is reported to be at least three times more transmissible than the Delta VoC and is posing a new challenge for the COVID containment measures.
In the countries with Omicron-driven surge, Bhalla mentioned the growth trajectory of cases has been very steep and that "in our country, 578 Omicron cases have already been reported in 19 states and UTs".
The Home Secretary mentioned that Omicron cases have already been reported in 116 countries globally.
Further, Bhalla said, the surge in cases is also being reported across various countries, especially in the USA, the UK, Europe (France, Italy, Spain), Russia, South Africa, Vietnam, and Australia.
In this background, in the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) advisory dated December 21 this year, the officer said a normative framework has been provided.
"With the distinct presence of the Delta variant and detection of Omicron cases in many States, there is need for greater foresight, data analysis, dynamic decision making, and strict and prompt containment actions at the local and district levels, based on the assessment of the situation," Bhalla mentioned.
On December 23 this year, the Home Secretary said, the Prime Minister has reviewed the status of COVID-19, Omicron VoC, and the preparedness of health systems across the country.
"After review, the Prime Minister, has directed that we should be 'Satark' and "Saavdhan'," said the Home Secretary, adding "as per his directions, it is important to maintain a high level of vigil and alertness at all levels".
With a view to discourage any misinformation in respect of the new VoC, which creates anxiety among the public, the Home Secretary also suggested all states and UTs to proactively and regularly hold media briefings at the highest level to disseminate the right information to them.
"States/UTs should also educate them about various preventive measures undertaken by them and also advise them to strictly follow COVID Appropriate Behaviour," Bhalla added.

(With inputs from ANI)

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Published on: Monday, December 27, 2021, 02:07 PM IST
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