In response to early indications of a rise in cases of COVID-19 and the finding of the Omicron variant in several areas of the country, the Centre issued a new advisory to all States and UTs on Monday to address the pandemic situation.
Ajay Bhalla, the Union Home Secretary, stated in the advice that States and Union Territories may consider implementing need-based, local limitations and restrictions to control crowds during the festival season.
Asking States and UTs not to relax their vigilance, he emphasized that there should be a continued focus on the five-fold strategy — Test-Track-Treat-Vaccination and adherence to Covid-appropriate behavior — to prevent the possibility of a surge in COVID-19 cases, particularly in light of the newly identified Variant of Concern (VOC).
He requested that the States and UTs refer to the directive issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) on December 21 to ensure the implementation of the measures communicated by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW).
The country as a whole has observed a drop in active cases. However, according to the message, the new variation Omicron is estimated to be at least three times more transmissible than the Delta VOC, offering a new challenge to the Covid containment procedures.
The home secretary stated that in countries experiencing an Omicron-driven epidemic, the rising trajectory of cases has been particularly high, and 578 Omicron instances have already been documented in 19 U.S. states and territories.
He stated that 116 nations have already recorded Omicron instances. In addition, an increase in instances has been observed in other nations, including the United States, the United Kingdom, Europe (France, Italy, and Spain), Russia, South Africa, Vietnam, and Australia, among others.
Bhalla stated in the MoHFW advisory of December 21 that a normative framework has been established and that, given the presence of the Delta variant and the detection of Omicron cases in numerous states, there is a need for greater foresight, data processing, dynamic decisions, and strict and timely containment behavior at the local and district levels.
On December 23, according to the home secretary, Prime Minister Narendra Modi evaluated the status of COVID-19, Omicron VOC, and the readiness of health systems across the nation.
The prime minister has ordered everyone to maintain a high degree of vigilance and awareness following a review.
Bhalla stated that state governments should guarantee that their health systems are reinforced to confront any challenge given by the new strain.
He stated that state governments and UT administrations must guarantee that oxygen supply equipment is established and completely functioning and that a buffer stock of vital medications is maintained.
I would want to underline that all states and territories must take all safeguards and be vigilant.
The local and district administrations must swiftly implement the necessary containment measures based on the statutory framework and an evaluation of the situation. To reduce the crowds over the holiday season, states may consider implementing need-based, local limitations and limits.
Bhalla stated that the State’s enforcement apparatus must firmly enforce the rules of acceptable Covid behavior.
“All States and UTs should proactively and routinely arrange media briefings at the highest level to distribute the correct information to the media to discourage any misinformation regarding the new VOC, which causes fear among the people,” he stated.
The home secretary stated that states and territories should educate them on the different preventative measures they take and counsel them to adhere to Covid-appropriate conduct carefully.
“I would therefore implore you to issue necessary instructions to the districts and all other local authorities involved, to take appropriate measures for quick and appropriate planning of COVID-19, strict adherence with numerous advisories approved by the MoHFW on the new VOC, and better enforcement of Covid-appropriate behavior,” he stated. “
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