In the wake of ongoing Covid-19 cases, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) on Wednesday issued a 19-point Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) giving nod to states and UTs to impose local restrictions if necessary.
The SOPs, part of a month-long guidelines issued by the MHA, will be effective from December 1 and will remain in force up to December 31.
States and Union Territories (UTs) have been allowed to impose night curfew but “shall not be allowed impose any local lockdown outside the containment zones, without prior consultation with the Centre”.
Staggered office timings and othe suitable measures shall be implemented in the cities with the positivity rate in 10 per cent so as to ensure social distancing.
The MHA has also not restricted any inter-state or intra-state movement.
People above 65-years of age, persons with co-morbidities, pregnant women and children below the age of 10 years have been adivsed to stay home while advising the general public to use Aarogya Setu mobile application.
The district authorities have been asked to carefully demarcate containment zones considering prescribed MoHFW guidelines. The authorities have also been asked to notify the list of containment zones on the website of respective district collectors.
While only essential activities shall be allowed in the containment zones, strict perimeter control will be there to ensure that there is no movement of people, except for medical emergencies and for maintaining supply of essential services.
There shall be intensive house-to-house surveillance by surveillance teams formed for the purpose.
Testing shall be carried out as per prescribed protocol. Listing of contacts shall be carried out in respect of all persons found positive, along with their tracking, identification, quarantine and follow up of contacts for 14 days (80 per cent of contacts to be traced in 72 hours).
Quick isolation of Covid-19 patients shall be ensured in treatment facilities or home (subject to fulfilling the home isolation guidelines).
Clinical interventions, as prescribed, shall be administered and surveillance for Influenza-Like Illness or Severe Acute Respiratory Infection cases shall be carried out in health facilities or outreach mobile units or through fever clinics in buffer zones.
Awareness shall be created in communities on Covid-19 appropriate behaviour and local district, police and municipal authorities shall be responsible to ensure that the prescribed containment measures are strictly followed and state or UT governments shall ensure the accountability of the officers concerned in this regard.
It is directed to state and UT governments to take all necessary measures to promote Covid-19 appropriate behaviour and to ensure strict enforcement of wearing of face masks, hand hygiene and social distancing.
In order to enforce the core requirement of wearing of face masks, states and UTs may consider administrative actions, including imposition of appropriate fines, on persons not wearing face masks in public and work spaces.
For observance of social distancing in crowded places, especially in markets, weekly bazaars and public transport, MoHFW) will issue a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP), which shall be strictly enforced by states and UTs.
All activities have been permitted outside Containment Zones, except for some which have been permitted with certain restrictions– international air travel of passengers, as permitted by MHA; cinema halls and theatres, with upto 50 per cent capacity; swimming pools, only for training of sports persons; exhibition halls, only for business to business (B2B) purposes; social, religious, sports, entertainment, educational, cultural, religious gatherings, with upto a maximum of 50 per cent of the hall capacity, with a ceiling of 200 persons in closed spaces, keeping of the size of the ground in open spaces.
However, the MHA said, based on their assessment of the situation, state and UT governments may reduce the ceiling to 100 persons or less, in closed spaces.
The main focus of the guidelines is to consolidate the substantial gains that have been achieved against the spread of the deadly disease which is visible in the steady decline in number of active cases in the country.
“Keeping in view the recent spike in new cases in few states and UTs, ongoing festival season and onset of winter, it is emphasised that to fully overcome the pandemic, there is need to maintain caution and to strictly follow the prescribed containment strategy, focused on surveillance, containment and strict observance of the guidelines or SOPs issued by MHA and Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MOHFW),” it said.
Local district, police and municipal authorities shall be responsible to ensure that the prescribed containment measures are strictly followed.
“States and UTs, based on their assessment of the situation, may impose local restrictions, with a view to contain the spread of Covid-19,” the Ministry said.
The move comes after India on Wednesday added 44,376 Covid cases, pushing its total tally to 92,22,216. It is the 18th straight day when India reported less than 50,000 cases in a day. But there are many states including Delhi, Mumbai, and West Bengal where the number of Covid cases has been increasing drastically, claiming many lives regularly.
Maharashtra remains the worst hit state with 84,238 active cases and 46,683 deaths so far. The recoveries in the state stand at 16,58,879.
Apart from Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, and Karnataka have reported the highest number of cases.
The national capital is also witnessing a surge. On Tuesday, Delhi recorded 6,224 new cases and 109 deaths.
Amit Shah to attend golden jubilee of Himachal’s statehood
Union Home Minister Amit Shah will be the chief guest in the presence of BJP President J.P. Nadda at the golden jubilee function of Himachal Pradesh’s statehood here on January 25, Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur said on Saturday.
He told the media that the function would be held on the Ridge in the presence of 2,000 people owing to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The journey of the state’s 50 years would be depicted in an exhibition where various departments of the state government would showcase their achievements.
Governor Bandaru Dattatreya will preside over the function that will also be attended by Union Minister Anurag Thakur.
The Chief Minister said that a special postal stamp would be released to mark the occasion. A total of 51 events would be organised round the year to commemorate the golden jubilee of Himachal’s statehood, he added.
Karnataka to soon issue directives to mine owners: Basavaraj Bommai
Karnataka Home Minister Basavaraj Bommai on Saturday said the state government will soon issue a directive to all mine owners and explosive material suppliers. The order would specify the quantity of explosives for storage, use or transportation at a time.
Inaugurating a Road Safety week organised by the Bengaluru Traffic police here, Bommai told the media that the state government would deliberate on what types of explosives could be allowed to be used.
“We need to have a system in place such as how much quantity of explosive material can the mine owners store, use or transport at a time. The Shivamogga blast is an eye-opener in the matter,” he said.
Responding to a query, the minister maintained that only the original mine owner Sudhakar was taken into custody for investigations in the Shivamogga blast.
“Sudhakar is the one who took mining lease of this ill-fated quarry on the outskirts of Shivamogga city,” he added.
The Home Minister said the state was awaiting forensic reports, explosives reports and various other reports in one or two days.
“Once we get these reports we will be able to ascertain the exact cause behind the accident and what kind of explosive material was used in this mine, besides the mine’s area of operation,” he added.
BKU leader accuses govt of acts to disrupt tractor rally
A day after the protesting farmers leaders on Delhi’s Singhu border caught a person who confessed to hatching a conspiracy to disrupt the proposed tractor rally on January 26, Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) spokesperson Rakesh Tikait on Saturday alleged that the Centre and the administration are the ones behind such a “conspiracy”.
The farmer leader alleged that a conspiracy has been hatched to kill four of them and create disturbances during their tractor rally. The person was later handed over to the Haryana Police.
Tikait told IANS: “The man caught from the Singhu border’s protest site was a member of the gang. Only the central government and the administration can carry out such acts.”
“The government has been saying that the tractor rally on January 26 will be violent. How do they know that it will be violent?”
“1Our movement has been quite peaceful for the last two months,” the BKU leader added.
“The apprehended man was associated with a 10-member gang. We have handed him over to the police. Which agency will interrogate him is a matter to be seen,” he said.
Tikait said, “The same people were also part of Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar’s programme. It has now been revealed that the government is behind all such acts.”
“Where there is a mob, violence has to be forcefully created and such an action is resorted to by the administration. These gangs have been imparted training, the same people are part of the mob and commit violence. “
“We have nearly 200 volunteers deployed at various borders of Delhi who are monitoring such suspicious people. We want a peaceful protest,” the BKU leader added.
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