States can impose local restrictions to check Covid spread: Home Ministry
New Delhi: The Centre on Tuesday issued a fresh set of COVID-19 guidelines for the month of April asking the states to strictly enforce Test-Track-Treat (T3) protocol, other containment measures and step up the speed of ongoing vaccination drives in the country.
The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) in its order said the Government of India has launched the world’s largest vaccination drive against COVID-19, which is going on smoothly, but the pace is uneven across different states and Union Territories (UTs).
“The slow pace of vaccination in some states/UTs is a matter of concern. Vaccination against COVID-19, in the present scenario, is critical to break the chain of transmission. Therefore, all state/UT governments should rapidly step up the pace of vaccination, to cover all priority groups in an expeditious manner,” the MHA said.
Talking about the main focus of the guidelines, the MHA in its order said states and UTs collectively need “to consolidate the substantial gains achieved in containing the spread of COVID-19”, which was visible in the sustained decline in the number of active cases, continuously for about five months.
It, however, said, “Keeping in view a fresh surge in COVID-19 cases, which is being witnessed in some parts of the country, the guidelines mandate the state/UT governments to strictly enforce the Test-Track-Treat (T3) protocol in all parts of the country and ensure observance of COVID appropriate behaviour by everyone.”
The MHA has also asked that in states and UTs, where the proportion of RT-PCR tests is less, they should rapidly increase it to reach the prescribed level of 70 per cent or more.
“The new positive cases, detected as a result of intensive testing, need to be isolated at the earliest and provided timely treatment. Even their contacts have to be traced at the earliest and similarly isolated,” it said.
Asking for listing of containment zones, the MHA said they should be notified on the websites by the respective District Collectors and by the states/UTs. This list will also be shared with MoHFW on a regular basis, it added.
Asking for fixing accountability at the local level, the MHA in the guidelines said district, police and municipal authorities “shall be responsible to ensure that the prescribed containment measures are strictly followed”.
“For strict enforcement of wearing face masks, hand hygiene and social distancing, states and UTs may consider administrative actions, including imposition of appropriate fines,” the MHA said.
The guidelines have allowed restrictions only at the local level, based on the assessment of the authorities at district/sub-district and city/ward level, with a view to contain the spread of COVID-19.