The central government on Saturday informed the Delhi High Court that it has asked all states and Union Territories (UT) to ensure strict compliance with the national Covid-19 directives.
The centre said that it had directed states and UTs to take necessary measures under the Disaster Management Act and to consider the implementation of targeted and prompt actions for Covid-19 management until July 31.
The Centre also stated that while the opening of activities after a decline in Covid-19 cases was essential, the states and UTs must ensure that “the whole process is carefully calibrated”.
The statement was made in a status report filed by the Centre through its standing counsel Anil Soni in connection with the high court's suo motu proceedings on violation of Covid-19 protocols in various markets in the national capital.
The Centre has submitted that national directives for Covid-19 management include face coverings, social distancing, not spitting in public places, work from home, staggering of work/business hours, screening and hygiene and frequent sanitisation.
"MHA issued order dated 29.06.2021..directing state/Union Territory governments and state/Union Territory Authorities to consider the implementation of targeted and prompt actions for COVID-19 management till 31.07.07.2021 as conveyed vide aforesaid MoHFW advisory dated 28.06.2021 and also take necessary measures under the relevant provisions of Disaster Management Act, 2005.
"MHA also directed state/Union territories that National Directives for Covid-19 Management shall continue to be strictly followed throughout the country”, the report reads.
Clarifying that the decision to impose or ease restrictions has to be based on the assessment of the ground situation, the Centre added that state/UT authorities should ensure that there is “continuous focus on containment efforts” and “uniformity in implementing graded restrictions/relaxations”.
The high court was also informed that the “framework for implementation of prompt and target action” was also shared by the Centre with the states.
The framework, Centre said, speaks of a “five-fold strategy for effective management of Covid-19” i.e. test, track, treat, vaccinate and adherence to Covid appropriate behaviour.
The framework also emphasises that “Covid-19 management can succeed only through a whole of government and whole of society approach”.
States are nonetheless at liberty to plan additional public health measures based on their local situation, it is said.
The Centre has also submitted that a letter was addressed to chief secretaries of all states and administrators of UTs, stressing effective management of Covid-19 by following advisories issued by the home and health ministries.
A vacation bench of the high court had initiated a PIL last month after it took note of certain photographs sent to one of the high court judges on WhatsApp by an AIIMS doctor showing scant regard for Covid-19 protocols by street vendors in markets.
The court had observed that such breaches would only hasten the third wave of coronavirus which cannot be permitted at all.
The high court said if this behaviour of flouting Covid-19 norms continues "we will be in great trouble".
"We have paid a huge price in the second wave. We don't know if there is any household which has not suffered in the second wave, closely or remotely," the bench had observed, adding that "we as a citizen of this city are worried when we see these images".
It further said the memory of the second wave of Covid-19 is still fresh with so many people having suffered personal loss.