The Union Home Ministry on Thursday extended the existing COVID-19 containment measures till February 28 in view of the wave of infections, driven by the Omicron variant, still raging and 407 districts reporting a positivity rate of over 10 per cent. In a communication to all states and Union territories, Union Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla said active cases have increased to over 22 lakh even though a majority of the patients are recovering fast and a low percentage of cases are in hospitals. “It is still a matter of concern that 407 districts in 34 states and Union Territories are reporting a positivity rate of more than 10 per cent. “Therefore, looking at the current trends of Covid, there is a need to exercise caution and vigilance,” Bhalla said in the letter to the chief secretaries, while extending the existing restrictions till February 28. He reiterated that given the current situation all the states and Union Territories must observe all precautions and not let their guard down.
He said based on the normative framework, mentioned in the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare in a letter on December 12, 2021, and assessment of the situation, local and district administrations should continue to take prompt and appropriate containment measures. “Imposition and lifting of local curbs and restrictions should be dynamic, based on the case positivity and hospitalisation status at the local level,” Bhalla said. The home secretary emphasised that there should be continued focus on the five-fold strategy of test, track, treat and vaccination, and adherence to Covid- appropriate behaviour. Bhalla said the state enforcement machinery should strictly enforce the Covid norms, such as wearing of face masks and maintaining social distancing in all public areas and gatherings.
Further, states and Union Territories should continue to hold regular media briefings to disseminate the right information and to discourage any misinformation on new variants of concern, he said. “I would, therefore, urge you to issue necessary directions to the districts and all other local authorities concerned, to take necessary measures for prompt and effective management of COVID-19, strict compliance with various advisories issued by the MoHFW on the new variant of concern (Omicron) and strict enforcement of Covid-appropriate behaviour,” the Union home secretary added.