The Union Home Ministry on Friday asked states and union territories to consider relaxing Covid curbs for social, sports, entertainment, academic and religious events as well as night curfew hours in view of the substantial decline in the number of cases.
Issuing COVID-19 guidelines for March, Union Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla also suggested the implementation of a risk assessment based approach on the opening of economic activities as suggested by the Union Health Ministry recently.
Accordingly, after a careful analysis of the local situation, relaxation in various activities may be considered, such as social, sports, entertainment, academic, cultural, religious, festival related gatherings; night curfew; operations of public transport;shopping complexes, cinema halls, gyms, spas, restaurants and bars; opening of schools, colleges, offices, and other commercial activities, the communication said.
In the guidelines, sent to chief secretaries of all states and UTs, the home secretary also emphasised that the wearing of masks, maintaining social distancing, hand hygiene and ventilation in closed spaces, as mandated in the National Directives for COVID Management, should continue to be enforced.COVID Management, should continue to be enforced.
He said states and UTs should continue with testing and surveillance, clinical management, vaccination and implementation of Covid appropriate behaviour for managing COVID-19. I would, therefore, urge you to take necessary action in line with the aforesaid Ministry of Health and Family Welfare advisory, dated 18th February, 2022 and for the enforcement of COVID Appropriate Behaviour, Bhalla said.
Frequently Asked Questions
A vaccine works by mimicking a natural infection. A vaccine not only induces immune response to protect people from any future COVID-19 infection, but also helps quickly build herd immunity to put an end to the pandemic. Herd immunity occurs when a sufficient percentage of a population becomes immune to a disease, making the spread of disease from person to person unlikely. The good news is that SARS-CoV-2 virus has been fairly stable, which increases the viability of a vaccine.
There are broadly four types of vaccine — one, a vaccine based on the whole virus (this could be either inactivated, or an attenuated [weakened] virus vaccine); two, a non-replicating viral vector vaccine that uses a benign virus as vector that carries the antigen of SARS-CoV; three, nucleic-acid vaccines that have genetic material like DNA and RNA of antigens like spike protein given to a person, helping human cells decode genetic material and produce the vaccine; and four, protein subunit vaccine wherein the recombinant proteins of SARS-COV-2 along with an adjuvant (booster) is given as a vaccine.
Vaccine development is a long, complex process. Unlike drugs that are given to people with a diseased, vaccines are given to healthy people and also vulnerable sections such as children, pregnant women and the elderly. So rigorous tests are compulsory. History says that the fastest time it took to develop a vaccine is five years, but it usually takes double or sometimes triple that time.
India logged 13,166 new coronavirus infections, taking the total tally of COVID-19 cases to 4,28,94,345 (42.8 million/4.28 crore), while active cases have declined to 1,34,235, according to the Union Health Ministry on Friday. The daily positivity rate was recorded as 1.28 per cent while the weekly positivity rate was recorded as 1.48 per cent, according to the ministry.
(With PTI inputs)