Indicating that states were not notifying zones for Covid-19 containment properly, the Ministry of Home Affairs has written to them, to strictly follow Ministry of Health and Family Welfare directives in the matter.
It has also told states that its lockdown guidelines are being violated and emphasised the need to strictly enforce night curfew.
“It has been brought to the notice of this Ministry, through Media reports and others sources, that there are violations, at various places, in the implementation of MHA Guidelines. I would like to emphasise that the MHA Guidelines should be strictly implemented, and all authorities in States/UTS should take necessary steps to ensure the same,” Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla has written in his letter to states.
He has specifically picked out the issue of notification of containment zones in this context. “Proper delineation of containment zones, and effective implementation of containment measures within these zones, is key to preventing the spread of COVID-19. In this respect, the guidelines issued by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) need to be followed, and containment zones properly demarcated,” the letter said.
The letter comes in the backdrop of reports that in some states, particularly Delhi, while cases have been rising, containment zones have been decreasing.
“States and UTs can now delineate various zones, and decide on the activities to be prohibited, or allowed with restrictions, in accordance with the MHA guidelines. Further, once the guidelines have been issued by the States and UTs, they should be strictly implemented, and action taken if any deviations are noticed,” the letter said.
The MHA had in its lockdown guidelines of May 17 given states the freedom to notify zones based on MoHFW parameters. These include the total number of active cases, the active cases per lakh population, the doubling rate over a seven day period, case fatality ratio, tests per lakh population and the sample positivity rate. For each of these parameters, a “critical” and a “desirable” level have been defined.
Without giving any cogent reason for imposing night curfews, the MHA reiterated their importance in its latest letter. “The need to ensure night curfew, or prohibition of all nonessential activities, between 7 PM and 7 AM is an important element of the MHA guidelines. The night curfew has been mandated with a view to ensure that people observe social distancing, and to contain the risk of spread of infection. Accordingly, local authorities should be asked to issue orders in the entirety of their jurisdiction, under proper provisions of law, for imposition of night curfew. Strict compliance of these orders should be ensured by the local authorities.”
Cautioning against any laxity as economic activity picks up and public movement is facilitated, the MHA asked for strict adherence to social distancing, hygiene and wearing of masks. “I would request all the Chief Secretaries of States and Administrators of Union Territories to remain vigilant in the fight against COVlD-19 and ensure that all measures that have either been mandated by MHA, or laid down by the States and UPS, are scrupulously adhered to at all levels,” the letter said.