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MHA Rejects Lockdown Possibilities, Issues 19 Point SOP

Though the number of COVID19 positive cases show no signs of decrease, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has denied any possibilities of a lockdown. The ministry has issued a 19-point Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) giving a nod to states and UTs to impose local restrictions if necessary.

  • The SOPs will remain effective from December 1 and will remain in force up to December 31. 
  • States and Union Territories (UTs) have been allowed to impose night curfew. But they need prior consultation with the Centre to impose any local lockdown outside the containment zones. 
  •  The cities with a positivity rate of 10 percent will have measures such as office timings to ensure social distancing. The inter and intra state movement has also not been restricted. 
  • People above 65-years of age, persons with other medical problems, pregnant women and children below the age of 10 years have been advised to stay home.
  • The district authorities have been asked to carefully demarcate containment zones. The authorities have also been asked to notify the list of containment zones on the website of respective district collectors.
  • Only essential activities shall be allowed in the containment zones.
  • Strict perimeter control will be there to ensure that there is no movement of people in the containment sones, except for medical emergencies and for maintaining supply of essential services. There shall be intensive house-to-house surveillance by surveillance teams formed for the purpose.
  • Testing shall be carried out as per prescribed protocol. Listing of contacts shall be carried out in respect of all persons found positive, along with their tracking, identification, quarantine and follow up of contacts for 14 days (80 percent of contacts to be traced in 72 hours).
  • Quick isolation of Covid-19 patients shall be ensured in treatment facilities or home (subject to fulfilling the home isolation guidelines).
  • Clinical interventions, as prescribed, shall be administered and surveillance for Influenza-Like Illness or Severe Acute Respiratory Infection cases shall be carried out in health facilities or outreach mobile units or through fever clinics in buffer zones.
  • Awareness shall be created in communities on Covid-19 appropriate behaviour.
  • Local district, police and municipal authorities shall be responsible to ensure that the prescribed containment measures are strictly followed and state or UT governments shall ensure the accountability of the officers concerned in this regard.
  • The State and UT governments have to take all necessary measures to promote Covid-19 appropriate behaviour and to ensure strict enforcement of wearing of face masks, hand hygiene and social distancing.
  • States and UTs may consider administrative actions, including imposition of appropriate fines, on persons not wearing face masks in public and work spaces to enforce the wearing of masks.
  • A SOP will be issued regarding the measures necessary to maintain social distancing in crowded places like markets and bazaars and this shall be strictly enforced by states and UTs.
  • All activities have been permitted outside Containment Zones, except for some which have been permitted with certain restrictions-
    •  international air travel of passengers, as permitted by MHA
    •  cinema halls and theatres, with upto 50 per cent capacity
    •  swimming pools, only for training of sports persons
    •  exhibition halls, only for business to business (B2B) purposes
    •  social, religious, sports, entertainment, educational, cultural, religious gatherings, with upto a maximum of 50 per cent of the hall capacity, with a ceiling of 200 persons in closed spaces, keeping of the size of the ground in open spaces. But  based on their assessment of the situation, state and UT governments may reduce the ceiling to 100 persons or less, in closed spaces.
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The main focus of the guidelines is to combine the substantial gains that have been achieved against the spread of the deadly disease which is visible in the steady decline in the number of active cases in the country. The guidelines were released due to this being a festival season and winter just around the corner, when extra caution is needed to control the pandemic from breaking out again. 

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