The Center authorizes States to open economic and social activities but with precautions

New Delhi: As covid cases across the country decline, the Union Health Department on Wednesday ordered states to follow a risk-based approach to opening up economic and social activities. However, the government has also suggested restrictions required in areas reporting a positivity rate above 10% or 40% occupancy in oxygen beds or intensive care.Also Read – Indian Medicines Regulator Approves Covid Covovax Vaccine Phase 3 Trial

Insisting on the five-pronged strategy of Test-Track-Treat-Vaccination, the government has asked states to stick to Covid-appropriate behavior. In a letter to the States and Union Territories, Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan asked them to ensure sufficient availability of dedicated Covid health facilities in line with the trajectory of ongoing cases and also ordered them to make non-Covid health services fully operational in all health facilities. Read also – All COVID restrictions will be lifted after March 31, masks will continue: Center | Read the full review

Important takeaways from the Union Department of Health letter to the States:

  • Gatherings and congregations – social, sporting, entertainment, academic, cultural, religious, festival-related and others – may resume, provided appropriate Covid behavior is duly observed.
  • Offline courses can be resumed at academic institutions without any restrictions.
  • Academic institutions can also benefit from a hybrid model of education
  • Weddings and last rites can be allowed and all shopping complexes, cinemas, restaurants and bars, sports complexes, gyms, spas, swimming pools and religious places can be allowed to operate at full capacity.
  • Public transport (railways, metros, buses, taxis) can operate without any capacity restrictions.
  • There will be no restrictions on interstate and intrastate movement, including the transport of essential goods.
  • All offices — government and private — can operate without any capacity restrictions, and all industrial and scientific establishments can be licensed.
  • States should ensure 100% vaccination of all eligible age groups, with particular emphasis on coverage of excluded beneficiaries.
  • Precautionary dosing and vaccination in young adolescents (12 years and older) should also be taken for all eligible individuals.
  • Services must resume while promoting vaccination of 100% of eligible staff
  • The government in its letter to the states stressed the need to follow home isolation protocol for asymptomatic and mild cases
  • The Center tells states to continue specific surveillance of high-risk cases.

“While allowing all of these activities, it is imperative that adherence to appropriate Covid behavior, including mask use and physical distancing, be followed in all public places,” Bhushan said, adding that such decisions states and union territories must be linked. to the local epidemiological situation based on a sustained critical level of screening and surveillance. Also Read – India further relaxes Covid curbs for international flights and scraps PPE kit requirement for crew members | Check the latest guidelines

“Given the sustained and steep decline in COVID-19 cases across the country, states and union territories have taken various measures to reopen economic and social activities. There is a need to follow an approach based on risk assessment for the opening up of economic and social activities without losing the gains made so far in the fight against the pandemic,” Bhushan said.

At the district level, there should be a constant review of emerging data of new cases based on a sustained and critical level of testing to facilitate an evidence-based decision for restrictions and easing, he said. he declares.

“States should monitor the trajectory of cases in particular geographic areas to ensure that areas reporting a positivity rate greater than 10% and bed occupancy greater than 40% on oxygen or intensive care beds should take enforcement, containment and restriction measures required,” the letter read.

As the trajectory of cases may vary from state to state and there would also be variations in the spread of infection within states, decisions need to be made regarding containment and containment measures. restriction mainly at local/sub-national level by the state. and the relevant district administration, he said.

Bhushan also insisted on proper screening and monitoring of flu-like illnesses and severe acute respiratory infections in all health facilities on a regular basis for early warning signals.

He also stressed the need to continue to focus on genomic sequencing of prescribed samples from international passengers, collection of samples from sentinel sites (identified health facilities) and local clusters of cases, in accordance with guidelines established by the ministry to capture early warning signals on variants.

Joel C. Hicks