The Central Government on Thursday extended the existing COVID-related restrictions in the country till February 28 in view of the rising cases of COVID-19 and Omicron variants.
Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) issued the order directing all the states and the Union Territories (UTs) to instruct their local and district administrations to promptly take containment measures against the threat of the Omicron variant based on their own assessment of the situation.
Taking evidence-based COVID-19 containment measures at the district and local level, as conveyed by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW), the MHA order mentioned that COVID restrictions "will remain in force till February 28, 2022."
"In exercise of the powers, conferred under Section 10(2)(1) of the Disaster Management Act 2005, the undersigned hereby directs that the Order of the Ministry of Home Affairs' of even number dated December 27, 2021, to ensure compliance to the normative framework for taking evidence-based COVID-19 containment measures at district and local level, as conveyed vide Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) dated December 21, 2021, will remain in force upto February 28, 2022," the order mentioned.
The order was issued when India logged 2,86,384 new coronavirus infections, taking the total tally of COVID-19 cases to 40,371,500 according to the Union Health Ministry data updated on Thursday.
As per the order, containment measures have been extended up to February 28.
"Due to the current COVID wave, led by the new variant, Omicron, there has been a steady increase in the number of COVID cases in the country and the active cases have increased to over 22 lakhs. Though a majority of active cases 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 UTs are reporting a positivity rate of more than 10 per cent," the order said.
Therefore, looking at the current trends of the COVID virus, the order said, there is a need to exercise caution and vigilance.
Against this background, the order issued by Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla said "I would like to reiterate that all the states/UTs must observe all precautions and not let the guard down".
"Based on the normative framework, mentioned in the MoHFW dated December 21, 2021, and assessment of the situation, local/district administration should continue to take prompt and appropriate containment measures."
The order directs "imposition and lifting of local curbs or restrictions dynamic and based on the case positivity and hospitalisation status at the local level".
It also asked to emphasise that there should be a continued focus on the five-fold strategy-- Test-Track-Treat-Vaccination and adherence to COVID Appropriate Behaviour.
"The state enforcement machinery should strictly enforce the norms of COVID Appropriate Behaviour-- wearing of face masks and maintaining safe social distancing in all public areas/gatherings," the order further reads.
Further, states and UTs are advised to continue to hold regular media briefings to disseminate the right information and to discourage any misinformation on new variants of concern.
It is also urged 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 VOC and strict enforcement of COVID Appropriate Behaviour.
(With Inputs from ANI)