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          Centre extends Covid-19 guidelines till Jan 31

          Centre extends Covid-19 guidelines till January 31, no further relaxations in view of new strain in UK

          Containment zones will continue to be demarcated carefully and prescribed containment measures strictly followed within these zones

          A vendor prepares to set up his roadside stall in front of a mural representing a frontline warrior of the Covid-19 coronavirus, painted on a wall in New Delhi. Credit: AFP.

          The Centre on Monday extended the existing Covid-19 restrictions and instructions on surveillance and containment till January 31 but provided no further relaxations citing the emergence of a new variant of the virus in the United Kingdom.

          While all those activities allowed till now will remain in place, the new order would mean that the international air travel, barring those allowed by the MHA, would continue to be suspended, while states are allowed to impose night curfew and restrict participation of people in events that attract a large number of people.

          Follow latest updates on the coronavirus here

          Though it acknowledged the "continuous decline" in the cases, the MHA issued the order to extend the 'Guidelines for Surveillance, Containment and Caution', issued on November 25 and valid till December-end, to next month.

          "While there has been a continuous decline in the active and new Covid-19 cases, there is need to maintain surveillance, containment and caution, keeping in view the surge in cases globally, and emergence of a new variant of the virus in the United Kingdom (UK)," an MHA spokesperson said.

          Read: Covishield vaccine ready for rollout in January: Serum Institute of India CEO Adar Poonawala

          The containment zones will continue to be demarcated carefully and prescribed containment measures strictly followed within these zones. Covid-19 appropriate behaviour will be strictly enforced. The Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) prescribed in respect of various permitted activities will be followed scrupulously.

          "Therefore, the focused approach on surveillance, containment and strict observance of the guidelines/SOPs issued by MHA and Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MOHFW), as envisaged in the Guidelines issued on November 25 need to be enforced strictly by States and UTs," the order said.

          The guidelines issued on November 25 had instructed states to trace, track and quarantine 80% contacts of a Covid-19 patient in 72 hours besides allowing states to implement staggered office timings in cities with higher positivity rate. States were also allowed to impose local measures like night curfew.

          Swimming pools will continue to remain out of bounds for the public as it will be allowed only for training of sports persons. Exhibition halls will be allowed only for Business to Business purposes.

          States are also allowed to reduce the number of people attending social, religious, sports, entertainment, educational, cultural, religious and other gatherings to 100 in closed places from the existing ceiling of 200 based on the ground situation.

          It should also ensure careful demarcation of containment zones, where only essential services should be allowed. Strict perimetre control should be ensured so that there is no movement in or out of these zones, except for medical emergencies and maintaining essential supplies, while intensive house-to-house surveillance and testing as prescribed should be conducted.

          However, the MHA has reiterated that the states cannot unilaterally declare lockdown outside containment zones at local or state-level without prior consultation with the Centre.

          With more and more offices functioning following the unlocking of restrictions, the new guidelines said the states could consider implementing staggered office timings and other measures in cities where the positivity rate is more than 10%.

          WHAT IS IN THE GUIDELINES:

          1.

          • States to ensure careful demarcation of Containment Zones by district authorities, at the micro level
          • Only essential activities to be allowed in Containment Zones, strict perimetre control to be ensured
          • Intensive house-to-house surveillance in Containment Zones
          • Tracing and tracking of all contacts of people who tested positive. 80% contacts to be traced in 72 hours
          • Quick isolation of Covid-19 patients to be ensured
          • Local district, police and municipal authorities to be responsible to ensure prescribed containment measures are strictly followed. State governments to ensure the accountability of the officers concerned?

          2.

          • State governments to take necessary measures to promote Covid-19 appropriate behaviour and ensure strict enforcement of wearing of face masks, hand hygiene and social distancing.
          • States may consider administrative actions, including imposition of appropriate fines, on persons not wearing face masks in public and work spaces
          • Union Health Ministry to issue SOP on social distancing in crowded places, especially in markets, weekly bazaars and public transport

          3.

          • All activities except a few are allowed
          • International air travel (barring those allowed by MHA) will remain suspended
          • Swimming pools will be allowed only for training of sports persons
          • Exhibition halls will be allowed only for Business to Business purposes
          • States allowed to restrict the number of attendees for social, religious, sports, entertainment, educational, cultural, religious and other gatherings in closed spaces to 100 from existing 200.

          4.

          • Based on ground situation, states allowed to impose local restrictions like night curfew
          • However, states cannot impose any local lockdown without prior consultation with the Centre
          • States should enforce social distancing in offices.?
          • States could consider staggered office timings in cities where positivity rate is above 10%

          5.

          • National Directives for Covid-19 Management shall continue to be followed throughout the country, so as to enforce Covid-19 appropriate behaviour
          • All SOPs issued will continue to be in operation
          • No restriction on inter-state or intra-state movement
          • Vulnerable persons, i.e., persons above 65 years of age, persons with co-morbidities, pregnant women, and children below the age of 10 years, advised to stay at home
          • Use of Aarogya Setu mobile application will continue to be encouraged
           
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