Ensure local containment measures in districts with high COVID caseload: MHA to states

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New Delhi, Apr 29 (PTI) The Centre directed the states and Union territories on Thursday to go for intensive and local containment measures in districts with a high number of COVID-19 cases to check the spread of the viral disease.

The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), however, did not mention anything about the imposition of a lockdown anywhere in the country in the fresh guidelines issued in view of the pandemic for May.

It told the states to take necessary action to ensure sufficient oxygen-supported beds, ICU beds, ventilators, ambulances, including creation of makeshift hospitals.

The fresh guidelines for COVID-19 management came amid a sudden spike in the number of cases and a shortage of beds, ICUs and oxygen in some parts of the country like Delhi.

The MHA asked the states to identify the districts where either the COVID positivity rate was more than 10 per cent or the bed occupancy was over 60 per cent in the last one week. The districts fulfilling any of the above two criteria should be considered for intensive and local containment measures, the MHA said in a statement.

The implementation framework for community containment and large containment areas, as advised by the health ministry, has also been enclosed with the MHA order.

The MHA also asked the states to consider the containment measures, as conveyed in an advisory issued by the health ministry on April 25 for immediate implementation based on an assessment of the situation.

The national directives for COVID-19 management shall continue to be strictly followed throughout the country, the statement said.

The MHA order shall be effective till May 31.

With a record single-day rise of 3,79,257 cases, India's COVID-19 tally has climbed to 1,83,76,524, while the number of active cases has crossed the 30-lakh mark, the health ministry said on Thursday.

The death toll due to the viral disease has gone up to 2,04,832 with a record 3,645 daily new fatalities, the ministry's data updated at 8 am showed.

The home ministry said the focus will be on containment to flatten the current curve of the pandemic.

Movement of individuals shall be strictly prohibited during the night hours, except for essential activities, in areas where the number of cases is high.

Social, political, sports, entertainment, academic, cultural, religious, festival related and other gatherings and congregations have been prohibited.

Marriages will be attended by up to 50 people and funerals by up to 20.

Shopping complexes, cinema halls, restaurants, bars, sports complexes, gymnasiums, spas, swimming pools and religious places will remain closed.

Essential services and activities such as healthcare services, police, fire, banks, electricity, water and sanitation, regulated movement of public transport including all incidental services and activities needed for a smooth functioning of these activities shall continue.

Such services shall continue in both the public and the private sector.

Public transports like trains, metro, buses and taxis will operate at a maximum capacity of 50 per cent.

There shall be no restrictions on inter-state and intra-state movement, including transportation of essential goods.

All offices, both government and private, will function with a maximum of 50-per cent staff strength.

All industrial and scientific establishments may be allowed to operate subject to the workforce following the physical-distancing norms.

Referring to testing and surveillance, the guidelines said the districts will continue with the 'Test-Track-Treat-Vaccinate' strategy and ensure COVID-appropriate behaviour.

The MHA said an analysis should be undertaken with respect to the requirement of health infrastructure so as to manage the present and projected cases (next one month) and necessary action initiated to ensure sufficient oxygen beds, ICU beds, ventilators, ambulances including creation of makeshift hospitals, as needed. Sufficient quarantine facilities shall also be re-activated.

The states should leverage the government and private health facilities, including the hospitals available with the central ministries, railway coaches, temporary field hospitals etc.

They should ensure that only those satisfying the protocol for home isolation are allowed under home isolation and create a mechanism for their monitoring through call centres, along with regular visits by surveillance teams.

Specific monitoring shall be done for the high-risk cases and their timely shifting to a health facility.

Similarly, the elderly and co-morbid contacts of the positive cases shall be shifted to quarantine centres and monitored.

The states should also ensure availability of sufficient ambulances for the purpose and coordinate the availability of oxygen, other related logistics, drugs etc.

Oxygen therapy for the admitted cases shall follow the guidelines issued by the health ministry on a rational use of oxygen.

Use of investigative drugs (Remdesivir, Tocilizumab etc.) shall also strictly follow the clinical management protocol and the advisories issued by the health ministry.

The states should ensure 100 per cent vaccination for the eligible age-groups. Details of hospital beds and their vacancy status should be made available online and also released to the media on a daily basis.

Details on the availability of oxygen, drugs, vaccine and vaccination centres, including the guidelines related to the use of Remdesivir, Tocilizumab etc. be also widely publicised, the MHA stated. PTI ACB SKL RC