No lockdown, MHA asks states to go for containment measures


There would be no lockdown across the states as the Union Ministry of Home Affairs has advised them to go in for “containment” in districts and areas where the second wave surged.

The ministry directed states and Union Territories to consider containment measures such as restrictions on gatherings, operations of markets, offices, schools and universities, and intensified testing and tracking for immediate implementation based on their assessment of the situation until May 31.

It has suggested intensive, local and focused containment measures in districts and areas with test positivity of 10 per cent and more in the last one week and where more than 60 per cent of oxygen-supported or ICU beds are occupied.

Despite the surge in Covid-positive cases and deaths in April, the MHA’s fresh guidelines on Covid containment steered clear of imposing lockdowns and left it to states and UTs to devise their own containment strategies.

The advisory asks states to encourage work from home. All District Magistrates are required to strictly enforce state-level directives on containment measures as well as the national guidelines.

The Union Health Ministry had called for measures like night curfew, prohibiting public gatherings for political, social, religious, sports or entertainment purposes, capping attendance at marriages to 50 and at funerals to 20, closing of shopping complexes, cinema halls, gyms, spas, restaurants, stadia, operating public transport at 50 per cent, and a cap of 50 per cent attendance in government and private offices.

“However, these are indicative activities, and states and UTs should make a careful analysis of the local situation, areas to be covered, and probability of transmission and then take a decision,” the Health Ministry had advised.

The restrictions were prescribed for 14 days across the containment zones, which shall be declared such after a public announcement outlining the rationale and the nature of restrictions while asking for a test-track-treat-vaccine approach and ensure Covid-appropriate behaviour.

Apart from suggesting 100 per cent vaccination of eligible age groups, the Health Ministry had also said that details of hospital beds and vacancy status be made available online on a daily basis.

It also said details on availability of oxygen, drugs, vaccines and vaccination centres, including the guidelines related to use of drugs like Remdesivir and Tocilizumab, should be widely publicised to generate public confidence.

A similar advisory was issued on April 26 based on the Health Ministry guidelines where the states were asked to impose localised restrictions for at least 14 days to flatten the Covid-19 curve.

The guidelines will be applicable till May 31. The previous guidelines issued on March 23 are effective till April 30.

The fresh guidelines for Covid-19 management came amid a sudden spike in the number of cases and a shortage of beds, ICUs and oxygen in some parts of the country like Delhi.

The implementation framework for community containment and large containment areas, as advised by the Health Ministry, has also been enclosed with the MHA order.