Revert to night curfews, containment zones to combat Omicron: Centre tells States

Maharashtra, Delhi report highest number of cases at 54

Updated - December 22, 2021 08:57 am IST

Published - December 21, 2021 09:39 pm IST - NEW DELHI

A medic collects swab sample for RT-PCR test in New Delhi. File

A medic collects swab sample for RT-PCR test in New Delhi. File

The Union Health Ministry has written to States to impose restrictions such as night curfews and declare containment zones if districts either have a 10% positivity rate or occupancy in oxygen-supported or Intensive Care Units rises to 40%.

The Health Secretary’s letter said Omicron was at least “three times more transmissible” than the Delta variant and therefore, “greater foresight, data analysis, dynamic decision making and strict & prompt containment action” was required at the local and district level.

So far about 200 cases of COVID’s fast-spreading strain Omicron have been confirmed in India, 77 of whom had recovered or migrated, according to the Ministry on Tuesday.

Maharashtra and Delhi have reported the highest number of cases of the new variant at 54 each. They are followed by Telangana (20 cases), Karnataka (19), Rajasthan (18), Kerala (15) and Gujarat (14).

Also read: Data | What does initial data about the Omicron variant show?

India had reported 5,326 cases of COVID infections over the past 24 hours, the lowest daily case count in 581 days. The total number of cases reported in the country now stands at 3.48 crore. As per the Ministry bulletin, there are now 79,097 active cases in the country, the lowest in 574 days.

The Centre has specified a multi-point action plan that recommends that States impose night curfew, strictly regulate large gatherings, curtail numbers in marriages and funerals, restrict numbers in offices, industries and public transport.

Where new clusters of COVID-19 positive cases emerged they should be promptly notified as “Containment Zones” and samples from clusters ought to be sent to designated labs for genome sequencing, the note by Health Secretary, Rajesh Bhushan, notes.

Authorities should also be undertaking “right proportion” of RTPCR tests in total tests being conducted daily, contact tracing of all positive persons.

Bed capacity, other logistics like ambulances, mechanism for seamless shifting of patients, availability and operational readiness of oxygen equipment, buffer stock of drugs and ensuring that vaccines be made available to the unvaccinated and those eligible for a second dose. Special focus ought to be given to those districts where the first & second dose coverage was less than the national average. The door-to-door vaccination campaign needed strengthening, the Ministry said.

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