Coronavirus (COVID-19): There will be no additional relaxation beyond essential services in containment zones across the country from Monday, and even in areas where relaxations are given, they may be reversed if there is any slip-up in containing the spread of COVID-19, the Health Ministry stated on Monday.
In a meeting with states, the ministry also said that relaxation should take the ground situation into account even while the focus is on reopening industrial units that can house labourers on its premises.
“The focus should be on select industries and farming and MGNREGA programmes. District administration should also ensure adequate protection of medical personnel deployed for community testing. They should take community leaders such as sarpanch in their confidence while doing this,” Joint Secretary, Home, Punya Salila Srivastava said.
With 1,324 new cases in the last 24 hours, there are now 16,116 confirmed COVID-19 cases across the country. There have been 519 deaths (12 in last 24 hours), and 2,301 people have been cured/discharged after recovery, it was informed.
Joint Secretary, Health, Lav Agarwal said: “There will be some relaxation from tonight in non-containment areas. States or UTs can make the norms stricter if they want. In hotspots, which, according to ministry guidelines are places with a large number of cases, or those where the doubling time is less than four days, only essential services will be permitted.”
He said that passenger traffic, religious and social gatherings, educational institutions, hospitality services, cinemas, malls, shopping complexes, etc, will continue to remain prohibited activities in all areas. “Health services will be maintained. You have to understand that this is rolling criteria and any slip-up can mean relaxations being reversed,” Agarwal said.
There are now 54 districts from 23 states or UTs that have not reported fresh cases in the last 14 days. These include 10 new districts: Gaya and Saran (Bihar); Bareilly (Uttar Pradesh); Fatehgarh Sahib and Rupnagar (Punjab); Bhiwani, Hisar, Fatehabad (Haryana); Cachar and Lakhimpur (Assam).
In preparation for government officers getting back to work on Monday, the Health Ministry issued guidelines such as use of face covers, hand sanitisers, meetings through video conferencing, restrictions on the number of visitors and avoiding gathering of more than five.
Meanwhile, in an open letter, several doctors and public health professionals appealed to not let other patients miss out on crucial healthcare because hospitals have been designated COVID-only. Such action, they said, is causing “distress” among many other patients such as those with TB, HIV, cancer NCDs as well as emergencies.
There are currently 2,144 designated COVID facilities in the country.
A high-level task force has been formed to work on the frontiers of science related to drug-testing and vaccines. This task force is co-chaired by Member (Health), NITI Aayog Dr Vinod Paul and Principal Scientific Advisor to the PM Prof K Vijayraghavan. Other members in the task force are representatives from AYUSH, ICMR, Department of Science and Technology, Biotechnology, Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), DRDO, Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS) and Drug Controller General of India (DCGI).
The task force will expedite coordination of work done by all ministries on issue related to vaccine development.
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