The order allows industries manufacturing ampules and vials, the pharmaceutical sector and the defence forces to use liquid oxygen.
The Ministry of Home Affairs has asked States to impose localised restrictions and implement strict containment measures for at least 14-days to flatten the COVID-19 curve.
In a letter to States on Monday, Union Home Secretary Ajay Kumar Bhalla said that considering the “unprecedented surge,” there is an urgent need for States and Union Territories to consider strict COVID management and control measures to bring the situation under control.
“….States and UTs, based on their assessment of the situation, may impose local restrictions at district/sub district and city/ward level, with a view to contain the spread of COVID 19,” the letter stated.
Over the past seven days, new COVID-19 cases averaged around 3.2 lakh per day.
It said that the Union Health Ministry on April 25 has advised all States to implement an intensive, local and focused containment framework and the criteria was shared.
“In the recent past, a sharp increase in COVID 19 cases has been observed along with high positivity rate. Considering this unprecedented surge, there is an urgent need for States/UTs to consider strict COVID management and control measures, in the surge areas to bring the situation under control,” the letter stated.
The Health ministry had suggested night curfew, closure of malls, shopping complexes and restricting office strength to 50% as some of the measures to contain the spread in areas that required intensive action.
“The spread of the infection has to be controlled through restricting the intermingling amongst people, the only known host for the COVID 19 virus. Social/ political / sports / entertainment / academic / cultural / religious / festival related and other gathering and congregations shall be prohibited. Marriages (attended by up to 50 persons) and funerals/ last rites (attended by up to 20 persons) may be allowed,” Health Ministry said adding that such localised restrictions should continue for 14 days.
Home Ministry also issued a clarification to the Sunday’s (April 25) order issued under the Disaster Management Act, 2005 on liquid oxygen. The order specifically excluded industries manufacturing ampules and vials, the pharmaceutical sector and the defence forces from its ambit.
The order had said that all liquid oxygen including the existing stock with private plants shall be made available to the government and will be used for medical purposes only.
Earlier on April 18, the Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) had written to States prohibiting supply of oxygen for industrial purposes, except for the exempted nine industries that included the pharmaceutical, petroleum, nuclear energy and the steel sectors.
Sunday’s order under section 10(2)(I) and section 65 of the DM Act had asked States to ensure that “liquid oxygen is not allowed for any non medical purpose” and all stocks to be made available to the Government “without any exception to any industry” to use liquid oxygen.
However, a senior government had explained the order will not have a bearing on the nine industries exempted by a letter written by the Union Home Secretary on April 18.
The fresh order issued on Monday, however reverses the April 18 letter exempting only three specified categories.
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