Centre to recall order on COVID-19 containment 

Use of masks, hand hygiene to continue

Updated - March 24, 2022 08:13 am IST

Published - March 23, 2022 06:54 pm IST - New Delhi

Union Home Secretary Ajay Kumar Bhalla. File

Union Home Secretary Ajay Kumar Bhalla. File | Photo Credit: SANDEEP SAXENA

The provisions of the Disaster Management (DM) Act, 2005 will not be invoked in the country after March 31 due to the overall improvement in the situation and the preparedness of the government in dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic, Union Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla informed the States on Tuesday in a letter.

Local authorities and State police can still invoke fines and criminal cases against persons violating COVID-19 norms under the Indian Penal Code (IPC), a senior government official said.

The Union Health Ministry said that use of face masks and following hand hygiene will continue to guide COVID-19 management measures.

The DM Act, first enacted in the country in 2005 after the tsunami disaster, was for the first time invoked on March 24, 2020 following the onset of the pandemic. The Act for the first time also introduced a legal framework for disaster management in the country, with the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) being the nodal Ministry.

From March 24, 2020 more than 100 orders under the DM Act were issued by the MHA on the directions of the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA). The national lockdown in 2020 and the distribution of oxygen to various hospitals across the country during the second wave were controlled by the MHA under the provisions of the DM Act. The last order was issued by the MHA on February 25, which will remain effective till March 31.

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 and vaccination, and hospital infrastructure, and the general public has a much higher level of awareness on COVID appropriate behaviour.

The MHA added that States and Union territories have also developed their own capacities and systems, and implemented detailed and specific plans for managing the pandemic.

“Over the last seven weeks or so there has been a steep decline in the number of cases. The total caseload in the country stands at 23,913 only and daily positivity rate has declined to 0.28%. It is also worth mentioning that with the combined efforts, a total of 181.56 Cr vaccine doses have been administered,” the letter said.

The letter added that the Central government, in close coordination with States, has taken various proactive measures to deal with the unprecedented global crisis of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I would like to mention that in view of the nature of the disease, we still need to remain watchful of the situation. Wherever any surge in the number of cases is observed, the States/UTs may consider taking prompt and proactive action at local level, as advised by MoHFW (Health Ministry) from time to time,” the letter said.

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