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Explained: Drop in Covid-19 cases, revocation of disaster law – how will your life change after March 31?

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Since March 24, 2020, the Ministry of the Interior (MHA) has been issuing orders and guidelines for containment of Covid-19. The MHA has issued instructions to the states through the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), under the Disaster Management Act of 2005.

Two years later, with the country’s active case count falling to 22,427 cases and 182.23 crore cumulative vaccine doses administered (as of March 24, 2022), the MHA called on states to “appropriately” halt Covid-19 containment guidelines.

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What is the Disaster Management Act 2005?

Parliament enacted the Disaster Management Act 2005 to ensure effective disaster management. The law establishes the institutional mechanism for drawing up and monitoring the implementation of disaster management plans. The focus is on disaster prevention and mitigation, and rapid response to disaster situations.

Before the onset of the pandemic in March 2020, guidelines were issued under the law on the management of earthquakes, chemical disasters, droughts, hospital safety, urban floods, etc.

Under which section of the Disaster Management Act did the MHA issue containment measures orders for Covid-19?

Under the law, the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), headed by the Prime Minister, was constituted. A National Executive Committee, consisting of the Union Home Secretary and members of various ministries, assists the NDMA.

Section 10 of the Disaster Management Act deals with the powers and functions of this national executive committee. This section also empowers the National Executive Committee to lay down guidelines or give instructions to the concerned Ministries or Departments of Government of India, State Governments and State Authorities regarding action to be taken by them in response to any situation. of impending disaster. or disaster.

It is under this section that the Union Home Office has issued guidelines for the containment of Covid-19.

What was the last important order passed on the containment of the pandemic under the DM law?

In December last year, amid the emergence of the highly infectious Omicron variant of the coronavirus, the MHA directed district authorities to implement evidence-based containment measures.

The MHA had also issued orders to district magistrates on the enforcement of social distancing. He had specifically ordered them to use the provisions of article 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, as far as possible, to impose social distancing.

“Anyone violating these measures shall be subject to prosecution under the provision of Section 51 of 60 of the DM Act, in addition to legal action under Section 188 of the IPC and other provisions. legal, if necessary,” said the Minister of the Interior. had told the States.

With cases declining, on February 25 this year, the MHA passed an order to states to ease restrictions and implement a risk-based approach when opening economic activities. . Subsequently, night curfews and restrictions under Section 144 were relaxed by district authorities across the country.

What is the last command? What is the signification ?

In the order issued Wednesday, March 23, the MHA advised all states to “appropriately” discontinue after March 31 guidance issued under the DM Act for Covid-19 containment measures. The order effectively signals a return to full normal from April 1.

On the ground, this means that shopping complexes and cinemas can be allowed to operate at full capacity. States can also resume social gatherings and congregations, as well as offline classes at educational institutions.

However, public health measures to detect a possible new outbreak of cases must be implemented. Wednesday’s order does not change that.

What should the State continue to implement?

the The Department of Health has ordered states to constantly review emerging data on new cases based on sustained district-level testing. He said the restrictions and relaxations should be taken after proper analysis of the local situation, including the emergence of new clusters, the positivity of cases, the geographical spread of cases and the preparation of hospital infrastructure.

States were also asked to monitor the trajectory of cases in areas reporting a positivity rate greater than 10% and bed occupancy greater than 40% on oxygen support or intensive care beds, and to implement containment and restriction measures in these areas.

The Department of Health has ordered states to regularly monitor influenza-like illnesses to detect early warning signals. He also asked them to focus on genome sequencing to capture early warning signals of novel coronavirus variants. More importantly, he asked states to continue tracking the use of masks in public spaces.

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