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Center issues fresh COVID-19 guidelines to check coronavirus spread

NEW DELHI: In the wake of the rising cases of COVID-19 in India, the ministry of home affairs today issued fresh guidelines to curb the virus with effect from April 1.

The guidelines mandate the state/UT governments to strictly implement the Test-Track-Treat protocol in all parts of the country, in light of a recent surge in Covid-19 cases in parts of the country.

It also stated to ensure that Covid-appropriate behaviour is observed, as well as to expand the vaccination campaign,” the ministry said in a statement.

The guidelines, which will be in effect from April 1 to April 30, come as the country has been experiencing a steady rise in daily infections over the last few days.

The ministry emphasised the importance of adhering to the containment strategy and following the Centre’s SOPs in order to ensure the successful resumption of various operations.

Here are the health ministry guidelines:

Test-Track-Treat
• Where the percentage of RT-PCR tests is low, states and UTs should quickly increase it to achieve the prescribed level of 70% or more.
• New positive cases detected through intensive testing must be isolated/ quarantined as soon as possible and treated promptly.
• Furthermore, their contacts must be traced as soon as possible, and they must be isolated/ quarantined in accordance with protocol.
• Containment Zones will be thoroughly demarcated by district authorities at the micro level, based on positive cases and monitoring of their contacts, while taking into account the guidelines prescribed by the MoHFWin in this regard.
• The District Collectors and States/UTs will post the list of Containment Zones on their respective websites.
• Containment measures prescribed by MoHFW, such as strict perimeter control, intensive house-to-house surveillance, contact tracing, and surveillance for ILI/SARI cases, must be strictly followed.
• Local district, police, and municipal authorities will be responsible for ensuring that the prescribed Containment measures are strictly adhered to, and state/UT governments will ensure that the officers involved are held accountable in this respect.

COVID appropriate behavior
• State/UT governments must take all necessary steps to promote COVID-19-compliant behaviour in the workplace and in public, particularly in congested areas.
• States and UTs may consider administrative measures, including the imposition of appropriate fines, to ensure that face masks, hand hygiene, and social distancing are strictly enforced.
• National Covid-19 Management Directives will continue to be monitored around the country to ensure that Covid-19 appropriate behaviour is enforced.

Local restrictions:
• States and UTs may impose local restrictions at the district/sub-district and city/ward level, based on their assessment of the situation, in order to contain the spread of COVID-19.

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No restriction on Inter-State and intra-State movement
• Under Treaties with neighbouring countries, there shall be no restrictions on inter-state and intra-state movement of persons and goods, including those for cross-border trade. For such movements, no separate consent, approval, or e-permit will be required.
Strict adherence to the prescribed SOPs

• Outside of Containment Zones, all activities are allowed, and SOPs have been established for various activities. Passenger trains, air travel, metro trains, schools, higher educational institutions, hotels and restaurants, shopping malls, multiplexes, and entertainment parks, yoga centres and gymnasiums, exhibitions, assemblies and congregations, and so on are all examples.
• The SOPs, as they are updated from time to time, will be strictly enforced by the authorities responsible for their strict adherence.

Vaccination
The Indian government has launched the world’s biggest COVID-19 vaccination campaign. While the vaccination drive is proceeding smoothly, the pace is uneven across states and UTs, and the slow vaccination rate in some states/UTs is a cause for concern. In the current situation, COVID-19 vaccination is crucial for breaking the transmission chain.
As a result, all state/UT governments should accelerate vaccination efforts in order to reach all priority groups as soon as possible.

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