The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has issued fresh guidelines to control the sudden rise in COVID-19 cases in some parts of the country. The guidelines mandate the state/UT governments to strictly enforce the Test-Track-Treat protocol in all parts of the country, ensure observance of COVID appropriate behaviour by everyone, and scale up the vaccination drive to cover all the target groups. New guidelines will be effective from April 1, 2021, and remain in force up to April 30, 2021.
The main focus of the guidelines is to consolidate the substantial gains achieved in containing the spread of COVID-19, which was visible in the sustained decline in the number of active cases, continuously for about 5 months.
It has been emphasised that in order to overcome the pandemic and make the resumption of activities successful there is a need to strictly follow the prescribed containment strategy and observe the SOPs issued by MHA and the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare.
What is Test-Track-Treat protocol
- States and UTs, where the proportion of RT-PCR tests is lower should rapidly increase it to reach the prescribed level of 70 percent or more.
- The new positive cases, detected as a result of intensive testing, need to be isolated/quarantined at the earliest and provided timely treatment.
- Further, as per the protocol, their contacts have to be traced at the earliest and similarly isolated/ quarantined.
- Based on the positive cases and tracking of their contacts, containment Zones shall be carefully demarcated by the district authorities at the micro-level taking into consideration the guidelines prescribed by the MoHFW in this regard.
- The list of containment Zones will be notified on the websites by the respective District Collectors and by the states/UTs. This list will also be shared with MoHFW on a regular basis.
- Within the demarcated containment Zones, containment measures, as prescribed by MoHFW, shall be scrupulously followed, which include strict perimeter control, intensive house-to-house surveillance, contact tracing, surveillance for ILI/ SARI cases, etc.
- Local district, police, and municipal authorities shall be responsible to ensure that the prescribed containment measures are strictly followed and state/ UT Governments shall ensure the accountability of the officers concerned in this regard.
Instructions to ensure COVID appropriate behavior
State/UT governments shall take all necessary measures to promote COVID-19 appropriate behaviour in workplaces and in public, especially in crowded places.
For strict enforcement of wearing of face masks, hand hygiene and social distancing, states and UTs may consider administrative actions, including the imposition of appropriate fines.
National Directives for COVID-19 Management shall continue to be followed throughout the country, so as to enforce COVID-19 appropriate behavior.
Need to impose local restrictions
States and UTs, based on their assessment of the situation, may impose local restrictions, at district/sub-district and city/ward level, with a view to containing the spread of COVID-19.
No restriction on Inter-State and intra-State movement
There shall be no restrictions on the inter-state and intra-state movement of persons and goods including those for cross land-border trade under Treaties with neighbouring countries. No separate permission/ approval/ e-permit will be required for such movements.
Strict adherence to prescribed SOPs
All activities have been permitted outside containment zones and SOPs have been prescribed for various activities. These activities include movement by passenger trains, metro trains, air travel, schools, higher educational institutions, hotels and restaurants, shopping malls, multiplexes and entertainment parks, yoga centres and gymnasiums, exhibitions, assemblies and congregations, etc.
The SOPs, as updated from time to time, shall be strictly enforced by the authorities concerned, who shall be responsible for their strict observance.
Need to speed up vaccination drive across states
India has launched the world’s largest vaccination drive against COVID-19. While the vaccination drive is proceeding smoothly, the pace is uneven across different States and UTs, and the slow pace of vaccination in some States/ UTs is a matter of concern. Vaccination against COVID-19, in the present scenario, is critical to breaking the chain of transmission.
Therefore, the Centre has advised all state/ UT governments to step up the pace of vaccination, to cover all priority groups in an expeditious manner.