Test-Track-Treat And An Augmented Vaccine Drive: MHA Issues Fresh Guidelines to Combat Covid-19

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Th Ministry of Home Affairs on Tuesday issued a new set of guidelines for effective control of coronavirus in the wake of a recent resurgence in cases. All states and Union territories have have been asked to strictly enforce the ‘test-track-treat’, ensure observance of COVID-appropriate behaviour by everyone and scale up the vaccination drive to cover all target groups. The authorities have also been directed to follow the prescribed containment strategy, and observe the guidelines and standard operating procedures (SOPs) issued by MHA, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare and other ministries/departments.

The government further said there would be no restriction on inter-state and intra-state movement of persons and goods, including those who travelling across the border for trade under treaties with neighbouring countries. No separate permission/approval/e-permit will be required for such movements, the statement said.

Here are some of the major highlights of the latest order:

– States and UTs, where the proportion of RT-PCR tests is less, have to rapidly increase the same to reach the prescribed level of 70 percent or more

– New patients need to be isolated/quarantined at the earliest and provided timely treatment

– Further, their contacts have to be traced at the earliest

– Containment zones have to be carefully demarcated by the district authorities and the would have to be notified on websites by the respective district collectors and states/UTs. This list will also be shared with MoHFW on a regular basis

– In the demarcated containment zones, prescribed measures, including strict perimeter control, intensive house-to-house surveillance, contact tracing and so on

– Authorities would also have to take all necessary measures to promote COVID-appropriate behaviour in work places and in public, especially in crowded places and may impose fines against violations

– States and UTs, based on their assessment of the situation, may impose local restrictions, at district/sub-district and city/ward levels to contain the spread of the pandemic

– All activities, including movement of passenger trains (metro rail included), air travel, reopening of schools, higher educational institutions, hotels and restaurants, shopping malls, multiplexes and entertainment parks; yoga centres and gymnasiums; exhibitions, assemblies and congregations, have been permitted outside containment zones.

Regarding the vaccination drive, the MHA statement said that while it is proceeding smoothly, the pace is uneven across the country and it is a matter of concern.