Bengal bike policeman
A policeman stops a bike rider for not wearing protective face mask, at a market area which has been closed for three days in the view of rise in fresh COVID-19 cases after Durga puja festivities, in South 24 Parganas, West Bengal, Thursday, Oct 28, 2021. Image Credit: PTI

New Delhi: The Indian government on Thursday extended the nationwide COVID-19 containment measures till November 30 as there has been localised spread of the virus in a few states and the disease continues to be a public health challenge in the country.

In a communication to chief secretaries of all states and union territories, Union Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla also said that existing protocols for curbing the spread of COVID-19 will continue till November 30.

Last month, he had said that there was a possibility that COVID-19-appropriate behaviour might not be adhered to strictly, especially during the festival season and hence it was critical to enforce guidelines which allowed regular festivities in a cautious, safe and COVID-19-appropriate manner.

Bhalla had said the daily cases and overall number of patients in the country were declining steadily but there were localised spread of virus in a few states and COVID-19 continued to be a public health challenge in the country.

The home secretary said states and union territories, on a regular basis, should closely monitor case positivity, hospital, ICU beds occupancy of every district falling under their jurisdiction.

Focus on five-fold strategy

He said there should be continued focus on the five-fold strategy i.e. Test-Track-Treat-Vaccination and adherence to Covid-appropriate behaviour, to safely navigate through the festive season to avoid the possibility of surge in COVID-19 cases.

He said the state governments and union territory administrations should continue with their vaccination programmes with focus to accelerate inoculation of eligible age groups and prioritisation of second dose to eligible beneficiaries.

The home secretary urged the chief secretaries to issue directions to the district and all other local authorities concerned, to take necessary measures as advised by union health ministry advisory for prompt and effective management of COVID-19.

With 16,156 people testing positive for coronavirus infection in a day, India’s total tally of COVID-19 cases rose to 34,231,809 out of which 33,614,434 people have recovered from the disease, while the active cases declined to 160,989, the lowest in 243 days, according to the Union Health Ministry data updated on Thursday.

Toll climbs

The death toll climbed to 456,386 with 733 fresh fatalities, including 622 from Kerala with the national case fatality rate at 1.33 per cent, and the recovery rate at 98.20 per cent, the highest since March 2020, according to the data updated at 8am.

Of the 622 deaths in Kerala, 93 were reported in the last few days, 330 were those which were not confirmed until June 18 last year due to lack of adequate documentation and 199 were designated as Covid-19 deaths after receiving appeals based on the new guidelines of the Centre and Supreme Court directions, a state government release said.

The ministry said the daily rise in new coronavirus infections has been below 30,000 for 34 straight days and less than 50,000 daily new cases have been reported for 123 consecutive days now.

The active cases comprise 0.47 per cent of the total infections, the lowest since March 2020, while a decrease of 1,672 cases has been recorded in the active Covid-19 caseload in a span of 24 hours, it said.