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Selective relaxation in non-containment areas from April 20: Health Ministry

Luv Agarwal

New Delhi, April 19: Selective relaxation will be given in non-containment areas from April 20, but strict restrictions will continue in districts declared COVID-19 hotspots, the government said on Sunday.
Addressing a daily media briefing to give updates on the novel coronavirus situation in the country, Joint Secretary in the Health Ministry Lav Agarwal said some activities in agricultural sector and rural economy would be permitted as part of ensuring “Jaan bhi hai jahan bhi hai (life and wellbeing)”.
He also said a high-level task force to work on frontiers of science related to vaccines and drug testing was formed on Sunday.
“The co-chair of the task force are member of the Niti Aayog and the principal scientific advisor to the government. Besides them, AYUSH, ICMR, Department of Science and Technology, Biotechnology, CSIR, DRDO, DG Health Services and Drug Controller are also its members,” Agarwal said.
He said 1,334 fresh COVID-19 cases were reported since Saturday with 27 deaths in the last 24 hours. Total cases stand at 15,712 and deaths at 507. As many as 2,231 COVID-19 patients, which is around 14.19 per cent, have been cured, Agarwal said.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi had announced that from April 20 selective relaxation will be given in some areas. In accordance to that, there will be some relaxations in non-containment zones from midnight, Agarwal said.
The joint secretary in the health ministry, however, said that containment areas in coronavirus hotspots will not get the relaxations.
States and Union Territories may impose measures which are even more stringent than Centre’s guidelines, according to local requirements, he said.
Hotspots or red zones are those areas where either there are large number of COVID-19 cases or the doubling rate of infection is less than four days, Agarwal explained.
“In these hotspots, local administrations delineate containment zones and buffer zones to control spread of the disease. No relaxations are permitted in these containment zones,” he said, adding strict perimeter control will be continue and nothing except essential services will be allowed there.
“We will give selective relaxation in non-containment zones, but states and districts have to ensure that existing lockdown measures are strictly complied with.”
“Activities to be prohibited till May 3, even in cases of relaxation, are primarily passenger traffic movement by air, rail and road, educational institutions, industrial commercial activities and hospitality services unless they are specifically exempted,” the health ministry official said.
Along with these, cinema halls, malls, shopping complexes, entertainment parks will be closed while social, political, cultural, religious or academic and sports gatherings continue to remain prohibited, he said.
Relaxation will be there for agricultural activities, daily-wage earners and employment opportunities for some to be monitored, health services to be functional and supply of essential goods to continue, Agarwal said.
An ICMR official said 3,86,791 tests for coronavirus tests have been conducted so far with 37,173 tests done on Saturday. Agarwal also said that 755 dedicated COVID-19 hospitals and 1,389 dedicated healthcare centres have been set up in country. (PTI)