The Centre has allowed containment zones to be denotified after 14 days after discharge of the last confirmed case of coronavirus, instead of the previous 28 days, The Times of India reported on Friday. The Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare made the concession to states in an office memorandum issued on Wednesday.

The move is aimed at providing some relaxations in states that are facing continuing outbreaks of the coronavirus in containment zones and buffer zones. As a result, these zones have been under complete lockdown for a long time, inconveniencing residents.

“The surveillance operations will be scaled down if no laboratory-confirmed Covid-19 case is reported from the containment zone for at least 14 days after the last confirmed case has been isolated, and all the contacts of the confirmed case have been followed up for 14 days,” the document, which the Hindustan Times said it had seen, added. But the Centre said that surveillance for Severe Acute Respiratory Infection and Influenza-Like Illnesses will continue in these zones, apart from rigorous testing.

The health ministry document also castigated states for not being able to break the chain of transmission in some containment and buffer zones for long periods of time. “It is noted that such continuing outbreaks in CZ/BZs [containment zones/buffer zones] reflect less than satisfactory active surveillance, contact testing, testing and inadequate adherence to home isolation guidelines,” it said. “Hence, to avoid such a situation, the CZ needs to be redefined, surveillance strengthened and testing increased manifold.”

Whereas a number of relaxations in curbs have been provided since May 1 under the Centre’s “Unlock” initiative, none of these are applicable to containment zones, where only essential activities are permitted.

On Friday, India registered a record 55,078 new cases, according to the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. With this, the country’s tally climbed up to 16,38,870. The toll also rose to 35,747 with 779 fresh fatalities. However, 10,57,805 people have been discharged so far, up 37,223 from Thursday.

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