Curb potential COVID-19 'super-spreader' New Year events: Centre to states
Amid concerns over the new, more infectious coronavirus strain, the Centre on Wednesday issued an advisory to all states and Union Territories to keep strict vigil on New Year celebrations that could be potential "super-spreader" events. It asked them to consider imposing restrictions from December 30 to January 1 depending on the local situation. However, it left the final decision to them. Here's more.
The Centre suggested a series of restrictions to the states/UTs to tone down New Year celebrations and curb crowding as a precautionary measure. The move comes in the backdrop of the COVID-19 outbreak in the country as well as the detection of cases of the new coronavirus strain, which was first discovered in the UK, among people who returned to India from the UK.
Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan has reportedly written a letter to the Chief Secretaries of all states and administrations of the UTs asking them to consider imposing restrictions on New Year events. "Keeping in view the fresh surge of COVID-19 cases in Europe and Americas, there is still a need for maintaining comprehensive precaution and strict surveillance within our country," he stated.
"You will appreciate that in the wake of New Year and various celebratory events associated with it as well as ongoing winter season, strict vigil is required to be maintained to curb all potential 'super spreader' events and places where crowds may gather," Bhushan wrote. However, no restrictions on the inter-state and intra-state movement of people and goods have been mentioned in the letter.
Bhushan's letter comes after the Health Ministry revealed that 20 people returning from the UK were found to be carrying the UK's mutant coronavirus variant that is said to be 70% more contagious. The Center, earlier on Wednesday, extended the suspension of India-UK flights until January 7. It also launched a massive tracing and testing project for passengers who entered India between December 9-22.
Apart from the tracing and testing initiative for international travelers, genome-sequencing of over 140 persons who returned to India from the UK is also underway. The Centre also plans to conduct genome-sequencing on 5% of the people who have tested positive for COVID-19 since November 23 in India in a bid to zero in on any new mutation of the virus.