The Union government will soon roll out a renewed campaign that aims to spread awareness about "appropriate COVID-19 behaviour" in view of the forthcoming festive season and further unlocking of public activities, officials said on Monday. Union home secretary Ajay Bhalla is expected to chair a meeting to chart out the new plan on Tuesday at 3 pm in the North Block office of the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA). The meeting, a senior home ministry official told PTI, will have participation from senior officials of the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), ministry of information and broadcasting, chiefs of Central Armed Police Forces (CAPFs), field offices of the home ministry and few others. "The meeting is being held to discuss ways to increase the campaign for appropriate COVID-19 behaviour in the country," the officer said.
"A new or enhanced public campaign for ensuring self-sanitisation, physical distancing and wearing of masks is essential as the Centre has recently issued guidelines for further opening up of public facilities that allows more social activities," the officer said." Also, we are getting into a long festive season with Deepawali and other festivals lined up and hence it is required that public messaging about coronavirus protocols is stepped up and renewed," he said. He said the meeting will discuss these issues and chart out a public health response that can be implemented across the country in the wake of the COVID-19 spread.
The new campaign or to say extension of the already running public campaigns will be taken forward by all the information and communication dissemination wings of the government and various agencies, he said. The ministry, on September 30, had issued new guidelines for permitting more activities in areas outside COVID-19 containment zones that include opening up cinemas, theatres and multiplexes with up to 50 per cent of their seating capacity from October 15. State governments and Union Territories have been given the flexibility to decide on re-opening schools and coaching institutions after October 15 in a graded manner, and permitting social, religious and political gatherings beyond the limit of 100 people, subject to certain conditions, as part of these guidelines issued by the MHA under the provisions of the disaster management Act.
A country-wide lockdown was first announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi from March 25 and it was extended in phases till May 31 to check the spread of the coronavirus pandemic. The unlock process in the country had begun on June 1 with the graded reopening of commercial, social, religious and other activities. The total coronavirus cases mounted to 66,23,815 with 74,442 people testing positive for the infection in a day, while the death toll climbed to 1,02,685 with the virus claiming 903 lives in a span of 24 hours, the latest government data said. As per the data, a total of 55,86,703 people have recovered from the disease and the recovery rate in the country is over 84 per cent.