The Ministry of Home Affairs on Wednesday wrote to the states about the “blatant violation” of Covid-19 protocol in hill stations and markets, directing them to adopt measures to control large crowds, ANI reported.
In a letter to state officials, Union Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla said an increase in R (reproduction) factor in some places was a cause of concern. R number measures how many people are being infected by one Covid-positive person on an average.
The number of infections keeps rising if the R value is more than 1. If the value falls below that, the disease will stop spreading because there will not be enough new cases for the outbreak to continue.
“You may be aware that any increase in R factor above 1.0 is an indicator of spread of Covid-19,” Bhalla wrote in his letter. “Therefore it is important that the authorities concerned shall be made responsible for ensuring Covid-appropriate behaviour in all crowded places.”
The official added that the second wave of the pandemic was not over yet. “We ought to remember that while the reach of vaccination is increasing considerably, there is no room for complacency,” Bhalla said.
The Union home secretary directed the states to also focus on Covid testing, tracking and treatment.
“I would therefore urge you to issue directions to district and local authorities to regulate crowded places and take necessary measures for the management of Covid-19,” he said. “The officers concerned should be made personally responsible for any laxity in strict enforcement of Covid appropriate behaviour.”
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India reported 38,792 new coronavirus cases on Wednesday morning, pushing the tally of infection since the outbreak of the pandemic in January last year to 3,09,46,074. The country’s toll rose rose to 4,11,408 with 624 more deaths in the last day.
Experts have issued repeated warnings about a third wave of the pandemic, but this has not stopped people from travelling to popular mountain retreats and crowding markets.
On Tuesday, the health ministry said Indians were taking the warnings too casually and treating them like weather updates. Health ministry Joint Secretary Lav Agarwal said at a press briefing that people must incorporate Covid-appropriate behaviour into their lives as the new normal.
At a meeting with the chief ministers of North Eastern states on Tuesday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s had also emphasised on the need to follow protocol in order to prevent the third wave of infections. He acknowledged that the tourism industry has been badly hit by lockdowns but raised objections to large crowds in hill stations and markets.