Taking a more cautious approach towards the Omicron variant of Coronavirus than that taken by the centre, Maharashtra has issued a separate list of guidelines on Covid norms. Despite the central government urging the state government to align its guidelines with the centre’s guidelines, the state Chief Secretary Debashish Chakraborty told The Indian Express that the state is not going to change or amend its guidelines for now.
Defending the move of the state government to have a few separate guidelines, Chakraborty said that the states hold the power to take separate measures under the Disaster Management Act and Epidemic Diseases Act in order to contain the spread of the disease. The top bureaucrat of the state further said that the centre’s guidelines are merely an advisory and states are not under any compulsion to adopt the same guidelines. He added that in case the local situation of Coronavirus changes in the state, the government will consider amending its guidelines.
In his letter to the Maharashtra additional chief secretary Dr Pradeep Kumar Vyas, Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan had highlighted a few major guidelines which differed from the centre’s guidelines.
1. While the Centre has imposed mandatory RT- PCR testing for international travellers travelling only from at-risk countries, the Maharashtra government has gone a step ahead and imposed the RT-PCR testing for all international travellers deboarding at state’s airports.
2. While the centre recommended seven days mandatory home quarantine for all international passengers who tested negative, the state government has increased the duration of home quarantine to 14 days.
3. The state government has, in addition, also mandated compulsory RT-PCR test for passengers who have a connecting flight from the Mumbai airport. The centre did not recommend any such guideline in its advisory.
4. In another major departure from the centre’s guidelines, the state has mandated all domestic passengers travelling from other states to Maharashtra to produce a negative RT-PCR test not older than 48 hours at the time of their arrival. The RT-PCR test is mandatory for all passengers irrespective of their Covid-19 vaccination status.
5. The state government of Maharashtra has also mandated seven day institutional quarantine for all passengers coming from at-risk countries. No such guideline has been issued by the central government.
This is not the first time that the central government and state government helmed by Chief Minister Udhav Thackeray have differed on the management of Coronavirus pandemic. The state government at the time of the second Coronavirus wave in April this year had criticised the central government for vaccine shortage and inadequate provision of medical Oxygen.