Centre issues SOPs for approaching festival season; India’s COVID-19 cases rise to 66.8 lakh

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Centre issues SOPs for approaching festival season; India's COVID-19 cases rise to 66.8 lakh
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As per the new guidelines, organisers will be required to provide adequate area for an event along with a detailed site map of the venue and proper markings to maintain social distancing

With the upcoming festive season posing a major challenge during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Union Health Ministry on Tuesday issued guidelines for large gatherings as India’s coronavirus count rose to 66,85,083 with 61,267 new cases.

Earlier in the day, Union Minister Prakash Javadekar released guidelines for the reopening of cinema halls across the country. The Centre had allowed the opening of movie theatres starting 15 October with 50 percent capacity and one seat distance.

At present, India has 9,19,023 active cases while as many as 56,62,491 people have recovered. India’s recovery rate has now risen to 84.70 percent, while the fatality rate has further dropped to 1.55 percent.

Festive events to be permitted outside containment zones

With the festive season posing a major challenge during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Union Health Ministry has issued guidelines for large gatherings, including ensuring adequate area for events with a detailed site map and proper markings to maintain social distancing and not allowing touching of idols and holy books, to prevent the spread of infection.

Festive events shall be permitted only outside the containment zones, while people residing in the restricted areas may be encouraged to observe all festivals inside their homes and not move out, according to the ministry.

Releasing the ‘Standard Operating Procedures’, the ministry said that the period from October to December witnesses large gatherings for religious worship, fairs, cultural functions, processions, etc, and it is important that necessary preventive measures are followed for such events which may last a day, a week or more.

Keeping in view the physical distancing norms, event sites should have adequate floor area and proper markings at all locations which are likely to be visited by the public, the SOPs said underlining that only those staff and visitors who are free of symptoms shall be allowed inside the venue.

According to the SOPs, the event sites should have a designated isolation room or space for isolating any person found symptomatic during the events, until such time that medical help is available.

Persons above 65 years of age, persons with comorbidities, pregnant women, and children below the age of 10 years are advised to stay at home. This applies to the event managers and staff as well, the guidelines said.

Cinema halls to reopen from 15 Oct with 50% capacity

After seven months of shutdown due to COVID-19, cinema halls will reopen on 15 October with 50 percent capacity and one-seat distance between the viewers, Information, and Broadcasting Minister Prakash Javadekar said Tuesday.

“Cinema halls are shut for the last seven months. They are now opening on 15 October. For the safety of people, we have come out with SOP to be followed,” Javadekar said.

“Cinema halls shall be allowed to open with 50 percent capacity only and people will maintain one-seat distance. Wearing masks at all times will be important,” he added.

Briefing the press at his residence, the Union minister also said that online booking of tickets will be encouraged but the box office will be open for single-screen theatres.

“In single-screen theatres, ticket counters will be opened. However, we encourage online booking for contactless transactions. Proper ventilation has to be ensured and temperature setting of all air conditioning should be above 23 degree Celsius,” he said.

Recoveries exceed new cases for past 2 weeks, says Centre

The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare while briefing the media over the COVID-19 situation in the country said that the new recoveries have been more than new cases over the last two weeks. “New cases being reported in the last 14 days are lower than previous highs of 90,000 cases per day,” said Rajesh Bhushan, Secretary, Union Health Ministry.

Active COVID-19 cases have been below 10 lakh for the last two weeks, while the recovery rate has been at 84 percent, he said.

The health ministry also noted that almost 50 percent of the deaths are concentrated in 25 districts in eight states of the country. Of these, 15 districts are in Maharashtra alone.

The ministry said that 10 states including Maharashtra, Karnataka, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, and Uttar Pradesh account for 77 percent of the active cases in the country. It also added that it is too early to say whether the growth of active cases in Maharashtra had stabilized.

Bhushan said that under the Rs 50 lakh insurance scheme for COVID-19 frontline healthcare workers, payments made in 95 cases, while 176 claims are in process. As many 79 claims are yet to be received from states.

Delhi past peak of second coronavirus wave, says CM

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Tuesday said the national capital is past the peak of the second wave of coronavirus and the situation has been controlled to a large extent. He said the city government increased the testing exponentially to detect the infection.

“Delhi hit the peak of the second wave of COVID-19 on September 17 when 4,500 cases were reported across the city. The situation has been controlled to a large extent,” the chief minister said.

“I hope the second wave will slowly pass,” Kejriwal told reporters here.

Testing in Delhi hit the 60,000 a day-mark in September compared to around 20,000 tests per day in August.

Delhi is perhaps the first state in the country to have claimed that it is past the peak of the second wave of coronavirus

Centre releases COVID-19 management protocol based on Ayurveda, Yoga

Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan on Tuesday released a protocol for the clinical management of COVID-19, that lists dietary measures, yoga and Ayurvedic herbs and formulations such as Ashwagandha and AYUSH-64 for prevention of coronavirus infection and treatment of mild and asymptomatic cases.

The ‘National Clinical Management Protocol based on Ayurveda and Yoga for Management of COVID-19’ was released by Vardhan in the virtual presence of Shripad Naik, Minister of State for AYUSH.

“This protocol dealing with preventive and prophylactic measures is a significant step not only in the management of COVID-19 but also in making traditional knowledge relevant to solving problems of the modern time,” Vardhan was quoted as saying in a statement.

The AYUSH ministry, in the protocol document, pointed out that the current understanding indicates a good immune system is vital for the prevention of coronavirus infection and to safeguard from disease progression.

Global economy facing long climb to recovery, says IMF head

The head of the International Monetary Fund says that the global economy has started on a long climb to stronger growth with prospects looking a little better than four months ago, reports AP.

IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva said Tuesday that global economic activity suffered an unprecedented fall in the spring when 85 per cent of the global economy was in lockdown for several weeks. The situation currently is “less dire” with many countries experiencing a better-than-expected rebound in recent weeks.

“We continue to project a partial and uneven recovery in 2021,” Georgieva said in a speech previewing next week”s fall meetings of the 189-nation IMF and its sister lending agency the World Bank where the IMF will release its updated economic outlook.

While there has been some improvement, downside risks remain high, Georgieva said in a video-conference speech to the London School of Economics.

Punjab minister, who shared stage with Rahul Gandhi, tests positive

Punjab Health minister Balbir Singh Sidhu who recently shared the stage with Congress leader Rahul Gandhi tested positive for coronavirus on Tuesday, a health officer told PTI. He has mild fever and a sore throat, Mohali civil surgeon Manjit Singh said.

The minister is stable and in isolation at home. People who have come in contact with him will also be tested, the doctor said.

Sidhu was in Sangrur on Monday for Kheti Bachao Yatra, taking part in a protest against the new farm laws. The event was also attended by Rahul Gandhi, Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, and other senior Congress leaders.

Meanwhile, Haryana Deputy Chief Minister Dushyant Chautala said he has tested positive for the coronavirus on Tuesday. Veteran Congress leader Motilal Vora has also tested positive for COVID-19 and has been admitted to the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) in the national capital, as per PTI reports.

With inputs from PTI

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