NEW DELHI: As Covid-19 cases show a steady decline in the country, the Centre asked states and Union territories to end all Covid containment measures from March 31. The decision to end all the Covid-related curbs came two years after the Disaster Management (DM) Act, 2005, was invoked following the pandemic outbreak.
However, wearing masks and other Covid appropriate behavior will continue.
In a letter to all the state chief secretaries, Union Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla said that on the directions of the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), the Union Home Ministry (MHA) had issued orders and guidelines under the DM Act 2005 for the containment of Covid-19 in the country.
He said, “After considering the overall improvement in the situation and preparedness of the government to deal with the pandemic, NDMA has decided that there may not be any further need to invoke the provisions of the DM Act for Covid containment measures.”
Accordingly, he said, after the expiry of the existing order dated February 25, 2022, no further charge may be issued by MHA. The existing order was expiring on March 31.
The ministry, for the first time, had issued orders and guidelines under the DM Act 2005 for Covid containment in the country on March 24, 2020. It has since then issued modified orders from time to time.
However, the order said the Union Ministry of Health “advisories on Covid containment measures, including on the use of face mask and hand hygiene, will continue to guide the overall national response to the pandemic.”
The states were also cautioned to remain “watchful” and asked to take “prompt and proactive action” if any “surge is observed.”
“I would, therefore, advise all states/UTs to consider appropriately discontinuing the issue of order and guidelines under the DM Act, 2005 for Covid containment measures,” the letter said.
Over the last 24 months, significant capacities have been developed for various aspects of pandemic management, such as diagnostic, surveillance, contact tracing, treatment and vaccination and hospital infrastructure, and the general public has a much higher level of awareness on appropriate Covid behavior.
It said over the last seven weeks, there has been a steep decline in the number of cases.
The total caseload in the country stands at 23,913 (on March 22) and the daily positivity rate has declined to 0.28 percent, the order said.