In the wake of a resurgence of coronavirus in some parts of the country, the Centre on Wednesday asked states and union territories to consider imposing local restrictions in public observance of upcoming festivals and limit or do away with mass gatherings to combat the spread of the virus. In a letter to state chief secretaries and Union territory administrators, Additional Secretary in the Health Ministry Arti Ahuja wrote the battle against COVID-19 is at a critical juncture with rising number of cases and deaths being reported from several parts of the country. Any laxity at this point in ensuring strict adherence to prescribed SOPs to contain the spread of the virus may result in losing the benefits made so far, the Centre said.
Here are key points of the government’s advisory:
- The states were asked to consider imposing restrictions on mass celebrations of festivals like Holi, Shab-e-Barat, Bihu, Easter and Eid-ul-Fitr.
- The Centre said the local authorities may limit or even do away with such gatherings in exercise of the powers conferred under Section 22 of the Disaster Management Act, 2005.
- The states were asked to refer to an order issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs on March 23 wherein the strategy of ‘test-track-treat’ has been advised to be strictly followed.
- The local authorities were also asked on Tuesday to scale up the vaccination drive to cover all target groups.
- An order issued by the Delhi Disaster Management Authority for reference has also been attached for effective control of COVID-19.
- Strict adherence to COVID-19-appropriate behaviour in public places and gathering is the key to break the chain of transmission and reduce the incidence of cases in the country, the letter said.
A total of 47,262 new cases were registered in a span of 24 hours in the country. Maharashtra, Punjab, Karnataka, Chhattisgarh and Gujarat together accounted for 77.44 per cent of the new infections, the Union Health Ministry said on Wednesday.
The government on Tuesday decided to open up vaccination against coronavirus for everybody above 45 years of age from April 1. Union Minister Prakash Javadekar said there are enough vaccines and there should not be any concern regarding its availability.