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Centre asks states, UTs to reduce restrictions as Covid cases decline

Centre asks states, UTs to reduce restrictions as Covid cases decline
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New Delhi: As Covid cases show a downward trend and the positivity rate has reduced to 3.67 per cent in the country, the Union Health ministry has on Wednesday asked all states and Union Territories to review and amend the restrictions imposed by them to control the transmission of Omicron variant of Coronavirus.

In a letter to Chief Secretaries of states and chief administrators of UTs, Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan said the Covid-l9 pandemic is showing a sustained declining trend in India since January 21, 2022.

"The states/UTs should review Covid-19 restrictions and do away with the additional restrictions so imposed after considering the trend of new cases, active cases and positivity within the states and UTs," Bhushan said in his letter dated February 15.

"The average daily cases during last week were 50,476 and 27,409 new cases has been reported in the last 24 hours. The daily case positivity on February 15, 2022 has declined to 3.63 per cent," he said in the letter.

The Haryana government has removed all existing Covid restrictions in the state from Wednesday.

Meanwhile, India logged 30,615 new infections, taking the country's tally of Covid cases to 4,27,23,558, while the active cases dipped to 3,70,240, according to the ministry data updated on Wednesday.

The death toll climbed to 5,09,872 with 514 fresh fatalities, the data updated at 8 am stated. The daily Covid cases were recorded less than one lakh for 10 consecutive days.

A reduction of 52,887 cases has been recorded in the active COVID-19 caseload in a span of 24 hours.

The daily positivity rate was recorded at 2.45 per cent while the weekly positivity rate was recorded at 3.32 per cent, according to the ministry.

The cumulative number of vaccine doses administered in the country crossed 174 crore on Wednesday, the Union Health ministry said.

More than 31 lakh (31,12,641) vaccine doses were administered till 7 pm on Wednesday, it said.

Goa has fully vaccinated its entire eligible population of 11.66 lakh, a health official said on Wednesday. As a result, the state Directorate of Health Services has decided to close down all its Covid-19 vaccination centres and integrate them into the normal immunisation programme, the official said.

While effectively managing the public health challenge of Covid-19, it is equally important that movement of people and economic activities should not be hampered by additional restrictions imposed at state level points of entries, Bhushan said.

"Presently, as the case trajectory across the nation is showing a sustained downward trend, it will be useful if states/UTs review and amend/do away with the additional restrictions so imposed after considering the trend of new cases, active cases and positivity within the state/UT," the letter said.

States and UTs had imposed various restrictions, including night curfews and other checks at borders and airports, to contain the third wave of the pandemic in the country which was powered by the Omicron variant.

With the changing epidemiology of the pandemic globally and in India, the Centre has reviewed the existing guidelines aimed at minimising the transmission and circulation of the virus. The Union Health ministry also revised its guidelines for international arrivals on February 10.

Bhushan also asked states and UTs to continue monitoring the trajectory of cases and spread of infection on a daily basis. "They may also follow the broad five-fold strategy of – 'Test-Track-Treat-Vaccination and adherence to Covid appropriate behaviour'," he said.

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