Implementation of the national directives for Covid-19 management will be extended until January 31, 2022 throughout India in light of increased cases of the Variant of Concern – Omicron, said the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) on December 27, 2021.
As per the earlier December 21 directions, every state and union territory was instructed to prescribe a normative framework for taking evidence based containment measures at the district and local level if the area reports over 10 percent positivity rate for the virus or if there is more than 40 percent hospital bed occupancy.
“For the enforcement of social distancing, state/union territory governments may, as far as possible, use the provisions of Section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code of 1973,” said the order.
The news came on the same day that NITI Aayog’s Health Index report ranked Kerala as the best performing state in terms of health.
The Health Index
While the fourth round of the report for the year 2019-20 does not capture the impact of Covid-19 on health outcomes or any of the other indicators, it assesses the condition of state healthcare just as the global pandemic began. The fourth round of the index considers Maternal Mortality Ratio (MMR), proportion of pregnant women who received four or more antenatal care checkups (ANC) and level of registration of deaths as indicators.
Particularly, it showed that Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Telangana emerged as the best three performers in larger states in terms of overall performance. Uttar Pradesh with the lowest overall reference Year (2019-20) Index Score ranked at the bottom – Rank 19 – in overall performance. However, it topped the category of incremental performance by registering the highest incremental change from the Base Year (2018-19) to Reference Year (2019-20).
To put this in context, Kerala and Tamil Nadu, the top two performers in Overall Performance with the highest Reference Year (2019-20) Index Scores, ranked twelfth and eighth respectively in Incremental Performance. Meanwhile, Telangana performed well in both categories, earning the third position in both instances.
Among the smaller states, Mizoram ranked first for overall performance as well as incremental performance while union territories like Delhi and Jammu & Kashmir ranked fifth and sixth for overall performance in UTs albeit ranking first and second for incremental performance.
Among its findings, the report said that the gap between the worst and best performing states has narrowed. This along with fresh guidelines calling for the vaccination of 15-18 years age group from January 3, 2022, will hopefully bring new tidings for the healthcare sector.
Guidelines for vaccination
As per fresh guidelines, children in the 15-18 years age-group can only get the Covaxin vaccination. Health Care Workers (HCWs) and Front Line Workers (FLWs) who have already received two doses, will be given another dose of vaccine from January 10. At least 9 months (39 weeks) need to pass between the times when the second and third dose are administered. All persons aged 60 years and above with comorbidities will also avail this precautionary dose provided they were double vaccinated at least nine months ago. When the precaution dose is due, the Co-WIN system will send an SMS to eligible people.
Similarly, all those aged 15 years or more can register on the Co-WIN website online through an existing account or register by creating a new account through their mobile number.