COVID-19: Centre lays down rules for localised, graded lockdowns

By Express News Service
NEW DELHI: With the daily infection numbers surpassing the previous day’s tally as the second wave sweeps across the country, the Centre on Monday advised the states and UTs to enforce intensive localised lockdowns and create effective containment zones to break the chain and flatten the curve. Union Home secretary Ajay Bhalla, in a communication to all the states and UTs, reiterated an advisory issued by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare on April 25, asking for better sensitisation of district authorities for the imposition of effective restrictions to contain the spread. 

According to the rules issued by the Centre, states and UTs should impose restrictions when the positivity rate is 10% or above for a week and when over 60% hospital beds are occupied. The missive also suggests a graded response based on local situation .

States have been urged to go for intensive, local and focused containment network in districts, cities and areas based on the parameters specified by the Union Home ministry. Where or when to go for a lockdown should be based on evidence and analysis of the population affected, the geographical spread, hospital infrastructure, manpower and the ease of enforcing boundaries.

States have been given a broad framework for an “objective, transparent, and epidemiologically sound decision-making on imposing a lockdown”. Bhalla said the district authorities should be sensitised on the strategy for imposing restrictions, which should be widely disseminated to the public and to the field functionaries for their effective implementation. Considering the unprecedented recent spike, he said there is an urgent need for the states and UTs to consider strict management and control measures. 

“All States/ UTs have also been advised to consider a further graded response in accordance with local situation, requirements and resources. I would, therefore, urge you to issue directions to district authorities in your State/ UT, to take all necessary measures, as advised by MoHFW in their letter, for the implementation of the containment framework, so as to flatten the curve,” Bhalla said. The coronavirus situation continues to be worrisome in India with 3,52,991 people testing positive and a record 2,812 deaths reported on Monday.

The suggestion to go for localised lockdowns is consistent with the Union government’s thinking that bringing economic activities to a complete standstill should be the last option. In his recent Mann Ki Baat, PM Modi had urged governments to consider lockdown in extreme cases alone.