All COVID restrictions to end on March 31, wearing of face mask to continue
Deccan Chronicle.| sanjay kaw
Ministry has asked all states and Union Territories to insist that people wear masks and follow physical distancing norms as earlier
The general public now has much higher level of awareness on the COVID-appropriate behavior, said Ajay Bhalla. (Representational image: PTI)
New Delhi: Two years after the Covid pandemic broke out and the country went into a mega-lockdown, the Union home ministry has decided to end all Covid-19 containment measures from March 31, and has said that there may not be any further need to invoke the provisions of the Disaster Management Act for coronavirus containment measures. But the ministry has asked all states and Union Territories to insist that people wear masks and follow physical distancing norms as earlier.
Union home secretary Ajay Bhalla said that in view of the nature of the disease, people still need to remain watchful and whenever there is any surge in the number of cases observed, states and Union Territories may consider taking prompt and proactive action.
The Central government had on March 24, 2020, issued for the first time guidelines under the Disaster Management Act (DM Act) 2005 for the containment of Covid-19 in the country and these have been modified on various occasions.
In a communication to the chief secretaries of all states and UTs, Mr Bhalla said that over the last 24 months, significant capacities have been developed for various aspects of management of the pandemic, such as diagnostics, surveillance, contact tracing, treatment, vaccination, hospital infrastructure. He said the general public now has a much higher level of awareness of Covid-appropriate behavior.
The states and UTs have also developed their own capacities and systems and implemented their detailed specific plans for managing the pandemic, he said, adding that over the last seven weeks or so there has been a steep decline in the number of cases.
With 1,778 new coronavirus infections, India's tally of total cases has increased to 4,30,12,749, while the number of active cases has declined by over 800 to 23,087. The death toll has gone up to 5,16,605 with 62 new fatalities being reported in the last 24 hours. The active cases now constitute 0.05 per cent of the total infections, while the country's Covid-19 recovery rate stands at 98.75 per cent.
There has been a reduction of 826 cases in the active Covid-19 caseload in the last 24 hours. The daily positivity rate was recorded at 0.26 per cent and the weekly positivity rate was 0.36 per cent. The latest 24 hours saw a total of 6,77,218 Covid-19 tests being conducted. India has so far conducted over 78.42 crore tests. The number of people who have recuperated from the disease has increased to 4,24,73,057, while the case fatality rate stands at 1.20 per cent.
India has so far administered over 181.89 crore vaccine doses for Covid-19 to its eligible population. The Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI) on Wednesday granted permission for conducting the phase-3 clinical trial of Covid-19 vaccine Covovax as a booster dose in adults.
The Subject Expert Committee (SEC) on Covid-19 of the Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO) had, on March 5, recommended permission for conducting the phase-3 clinical trial for Covovax as a booster dose in adults who have been fully vaccinated with either Covaxin or Covishield at least three months ago.
The DCGI approved Covovax for restricted use in emergency situations in adults on December 28 last year and for inoculating the beneficiaries in the 12-17 years age group, subject to certain conditions, on March 9. The vaccine has not been included in the country's inoculation programme against Covid-19.
The home secretary’s communication to the states/ UTs said that after taking into consideration the overall improvement in the situation and preparedness of the government to deal with the pandemic, National Disaster Management Authority has taken a decision that there may not be any further need to invoke the provisions of the DM Act for Covid containment measures. Accordingly, he said, after the expiry of the existing order on March 31, no further order will be issued by the home ministry.