The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) issued fresh COVID-19 containment and management guidelines to states and Union territories on June 29. The guidelines, which focus on a 'five-fold strategy', will remain in effect till July 31.
The five-fold strategy includes testing, tracking, treatment, vaccinating and adhering to COVID-appropriate behaviour, the MHA said.
The advisory, issued by Union Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla, asked states and UTs to focus on micro-containment zones in cases of spike in positivity rate, and issue relaxations only in a "calibrated" manner.
"States, UTs should closely monitor case positivity and bed occupancy on a regular basis, taking the districts as administrative units," it said.
"On witnessing any early sign of an increase in the case positivity rate and higher bed occupancy, necessary action should be taken for containment and upgrading the health infrastructure," the communication further 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.
Bhalla also added that the states and UTs should monitor the cases per 10 lakh population, as it is an important indicator to predict the need for upgrading the health infrastructure and logistics.
The home secretary said for the districts with a high positivity rate and bed occupancy, the states may consider re-imposing restrictions.
While easing the restrictions, it must be ensured that there is no let-up in adherence to COVID-appropriate behaviour, Bhalla stressed.
The guidelines for the month of July were released on the day India witnessed its lowest single-day case count in over three months. The country recorded 37,566 new cases, which is the lowest in the past 102 days. This was also the second consecutive day when the death count remains below 1,000.
A number of states are proceeding with the unlock drive, after remaining under lockdown due to the second COVID-19 wave. Experts have called for caution while issuing relaxations, as the virus is still considered to be mutating. The detection of Delta Plus variant in at least 11 states has led to the fear of a potential third wave of the pandemic.
(With PTI inputs)