In an attempt to tackle the recent Covid-19 upsurge across the country, the Centre on Tuesday asked all states and Union territories to increase RT-PCR tests and strictly enforce the “test-track-treat” protocol.
The Centre’s move comes in the backdrop of India reporting its highest single-day spike of covid-19 cases on Sunday. Reporting an increase for the 12th day in a row, the total active caseload in the country had increased to 3,34,646 on Sunday.
In view of this surge, the Centre on Tuesday asked authorities to increase the pace of vaccination and also announced that everyone above 45 years can avail the covid-19 vaccine from April 1.
Issuing fresh guidelines for April, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) said keeping in view the fresh surge in Covid-19 cases, the new positive cases, detected as a result of intensive testing, need to be isolated or quarantined at the earliest and provided timely treatment.
The state governments and union territory administrations should strictly enforce the test-track-treat protocol in all parts of the country, ensure observance of Covid-19-appropriate behaviour by everyone and, scale up the vaccination drive to cover all the target groups, the guidelines said.
All contacts have to be traced at the earliest, and similarly isolated and quarantined, it said.
India on Tuesday recorded 40,715 new coronavirus cases taking the nationwide infection tally to 1.16 crore and the virus so far claimed 1,60,166 lives.
The home ministry said based on the positive cases and tracking of their contacts, containment zones shall be carefully demarcated by the district authorities at the micro level taking into consideration the guidelines prescribed by the Union Health Ministry.
The states and union territories where the proportion of RT-PCR tests is less should rapidly increase it to reach the prescribed level of 70 per cent or more of total tests.
The authorities, based on their assessment of the situation, may impose local restrictions at district or sub-district and city or ward level, with a view to contain the spread of Covid-19, the guidelines said.
The ministry said the government of India has launched the world's largest vaccination drive against Covid-19.
While the vaccination drive is proceeding smoothly, the pace is uneven across different states and union territories and, the slow pace of vaccination in some states and union territories is a "matter of concern", it said.
The guidelines said that the vaccination against Covid-19, in the present scenario, is critical to break the chain of transmission and hence all state and union territory governments should rapidly step up the pace of vaccination to cover all priority groups in an expeditious manner.
The home ministry said the main focus of the guidelines is to consolidate the substantial gains achieved in containing the spread of Covid-19, which was visible in the sustained decline in the number of active cases, continuously for about 5 months.
It is also emphasised that in order to ensure that the resumption of activities is successful and to fully overcome the pandemic, there is need to strictly follow the prescribed containment strategy, and strictly observe the guidelines and SOPs issued by the home and health ministries.
The home ministry said the local district, police and municipal authorities shall be responsible to ensure that the prescribed containment measures are strictly followed and state and union territory governments shall ensure the accountability of the officers concerned in this regard.
No restriction on inter-state and intra-state movement of persons and goods including those for cross land-border trade under treaties with neighbouring countries has been imposed.
All activities have been permitted outside containment zones and SOPs have been prescribed for various activities. These include movement by passenger trains, air travel, metro trains, schools, higher educational institutions, hotels and restaurants, shopping malls, multiplexes and entertainment parks, yoga centres and gymnasiums, exhibitions, assemblies and congregations, the guidelines said.
(With PTI inputs)