Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan on Thursday wrote a letter to Chief Secretaries, Principal Secretaries, and Health Secretaries of all the States and Union Territories regarding the violations observed in following COVID-19 norms across the country, especially in public transport, hill stations, markets, etc. "Needless to say, such complacency at this juncture has the potential to result in another surge in cases," he added.
The Union Health Secretary reiterated the need for focussed public health measures by the States and UTs. "It is imperative to adhere to the guiding principles of COVID-19 containment and management with special focus on the 5-fold strategy of 'Test-Treat-Track-Vaccinate and adherence to COVID Appropriate Behaviour'. Focussed and sustained high levels of testing, relentless contact tracing and ensuring strict adherence to COVID Appropriate Behaviour in all crowded places and potential super-spreader events," the letter read.
Bhushan further urged the States and UTs to take appropriate measures "to ensure that we do not lose the invaluable momentum gained in our battle against COVID-19".
The Union Health Secretary's letter comes after the Union Home Ministry on Wednesday said blatant violations of COVID-19 norms have been observed in several parts of the country, including hill stations, and asked States and UTS to take action against officials responsible for ensuring compliance to laid down guidelines.
In the letter, the Union Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla added that the increase in the 'R'-factor (reproduction number) in some of the states is a matter of concern. For the unversed, the 'R'-factor indicates the speed at which the infection is spreading in the country. An 'R'-factor below 1 indicates that each infected individual is on average passing on the disease to less than one person.
"You may be aware that any increase in 'R' factor above 1.0 is an indicator of spread of COVID-19. Therefore, it is important that the authorities concerned shall be made responsible for ensuring COVID Appropriate Behaviour (CAB) in all crowded places, such as shops, malls, markets, market complexes, weekly markets, restaurants and bars, 'mandis, bus stations, railway platforms, stations, public parks and gardens, gymnasium, banquet halls, marriage halls, stadia, sports complexes (if opened up by the State) as well as at all areas identified as hotspots for transmission of COVID19 virus," he said in the letter.