Impose curbs, if needed, to tackle crowd: MHA to states

Impose restrictions, if needed, to tackle crowd during festival season: Centre to states

Bhalla said the total number of active cases and high case positivity in some districts 'continue to remain a matter of concern'

The states should take "suitable measures" to avoid large gatherings during the festival season, Bhalla said. Credit: PTI Photo

The Centre on Saturday asked states to impose local restrictions, if required, to tackle large gatherings during the upcoming festival season while warning that enforcement of Covid-19-appropriate behaviour like wearing masks are on the decrease.

Union Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla wrote to Chief Secretaries of states and administrators in Union Territories as the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) extended the implementation of targeted and prompt actions for Covid-19 management till September 30.

Acknowledging that the overall pandemic situation at the national level now appeared to be "largely stable except for the localised spread of virus in few states", Bhalla said the total number of active cases and high case positivity in some districts "continue to remain a matter of concern".

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Bhalla directed the state and union territory administrations with high positivity rates in their districts to take pro-active containment measures to arrest the spike in cases and contain the spread of transmission. "It is important to identify warning signs of potential surges early" and take adequate measures, which requires a "localised approach", he said.

One of the concerns raised in Bhalla's letter was the upcoming festival season and possibility of large gatherings in public places like markets that could lead to an increase in cases.

The states should take "suitable measures" to avoid large gatherings during the festival season and "if required, impose local restrictions" with a view to "curb" such large congregations.

"In all crowded places, Covid-19-appropriate behaviour should be strictly followed. We need to continue to focus on the five-fold strategy i.e Test-Track-Treat-Vaccination and adherence to Covid-19 appropriate behaviour, for effective management of Covid-19," Bhalla wrote.

Bhalla also highlighted that the weekly enforcement data received from states regarding wearing masks, maintaining social distancing norms and imposition of fines among others indicates a downward trend in enforcement. He asked the states and union territories to augment the enforcement efforts for effectively checking transmission of Covid-19.

On vaccination, he said the states should strive to vaccinate the maximum number of eligible people.

"It must be ensured that areas having no virus or low virus transmission are adequately protected by progressively ramping up testing and other measures like ILI/SARI surveillance, market surveillance etc with strict enforcement of Covid-19-appropriate behaviour," Bhalla said.

He reiterated that the officers should be made personally responsible for any laxity in the strict enforcement of Covid-19-appropriate behaviour. 

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