India

MHA extends Covid-19 guidelines till Jan, says need to be vigilant over new variant

The Union ministry of home affairs (MHA) on Monday extended its existing guidelines for surveillance, containment and caution against the coronavirus disease till January 2021 even as it stressed there has been a “continuous decline” in the number of active cases of Covid-19 in the country.

The Centre’s extension also comes as a new variant of the coronavirus in the United Kingdom has been blamed for soaring infection rates in London and southeast England. British authorities have said the new version is more easily transmitted than the original but stressed there is no evidence it makes people sicker. Hundreds of people have come back from the UK to India and several have tested positive for the coronavirus disease, prompting the government to tighten rules.

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“While there has been a continuous decline in the active and new COVID-19 cases, there is need to maintain surveillance, containment and caution, keeping in view the surge in cases globally, and emergence of a new variant of the virus in the United Kingdom (UK),” MHA said in a statement.

The home ministry said that containment zones will have to be demarcated carefully and prescribed containment measures must be strictly followed within these areas. It also said that Covid-appropriate behaviour must be promoted and strictly enforced and the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) prescribed in respect of various permitted activities should be followed scrupulously.

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“Therefore, the focused approach on surveillance, containment and strict observance of the guidelines/ SOPs issued by MHA and Ministry of Health & Family Welfare (MOHFW), as envisaged in the Guidelines issued on 25.11.2020; need to be enforced strictly by States and UTs,” it added. The Union home ministry has also asked people to be cautious while celebrating the New Year.

India recorded 20,021 new cases of Covid-19 and 279 related deaths in the last 24 hours, taking the nationwide tally to 10,207,871, according to Union health ministry on Monday morning. India had recorded the lowest single-day rise in Covid-19 cases in nearly six months at 18,732 on Sunday. The active caseload also dipped to 278,000 the lowest after 170 days, the health ministry said.

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