In a letter to the Chief Secretaries of all the States and UTs, Union Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla on Tuesday has directed to maintain utmost vigil ahead of the upcoming festivals. Large scale gatherings in fairs, festivals, religious events and functions may lead to a fresh surge in COVID-19 cases in the country, noted Bhalla. He added that it is therefore critical to enforce adherence to the COVID-19 guidelines which allows regular festivities in a cautious, safe and appropriate manner.
"The daily COVID-19 cases and overall number of COVID-19 patients in the country are declining steadily. However, there are still localised spreads of virus in few states and COVID-19 still continues to be a public health challenge in our country," wrote the Union Home Secretary. "With the decline in the COVID-19 cases, there is a possibility that Covid Appropriate Behaviour (CAB) is not adhered to strictly. especially during the upcoming festivals," he added.
In the letter, Bhalla has directed States and UTs to closely monitor case positivity, hospital/ICU bed occupancy of every district. "The States/UTs concerned, having high positivity in their districts, should take pro-active containment measures so as to effectively arrest the spike in cases and to contain the spread of transmission. It is important to identify warning signs of potential surges early on and to take appropriate measures to curb the spread," he added.
The Union Home Secretary further asked the States and UTs to keep following the five-fold strategy i.e, Test-Track-Treat-Vaccination and adherence to COVID Appropriate Behaviour. He also asked them to continue the vaccination programme with a focus to accelerate vaccination of eligible age groups and prioritization of second dose to eligible beneficiaries.
Meanwhile, the number of fresh coronavirus cases was below 20,000 (18,795) in India after 201 days on Tuesday, taking the country's COVID-19 tally to 3,36,97,581, while the number of active cases declined to 2,92,206, the lowest in 192 days, according to the Union health ministry.
A total 18,795 fresh Covid cases were registered in a span of 24 hours, while the death toll due to the viral disease climbed to 4,47,373 with 179 more fatalities, the lowest in 193 days, according to the ministry's data updated at 8 am.