The Central government has been issuing advisories, notifications, guidelines and other such communiques ever since the COVID-19 outbreak in India. These include travel advisories and guidelines for airports for screening international travellers arriving in India. The next stage of local and community transmissions brought in more and more such notifications and guidelines aimed at not just their several departments but the general public as well. Here we list down and make available these notifications, guidelines and advisories for easy access with a brief explanation on each.
The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MOHFW) has been made the nodal ministry for issuing the major advisories, guidelines and directives to states and for planning of mitigation and containment of COVID-19.
Advisories and guidelines for states
1. Home Secretary letter on movement of goods, use of SDRF
Through this letter dated March 30, the MHA made some clarifications to the guidelines it issued in light of the nationwide lockdown. These clarifications included allowing transportation of essential as well as non-essential goods, including hygiene products such as soap and sanitary napkins in groceries, allowing news paper delivery supply chain and so on. It also allowed use of the State Disaster Relief Fund for providing relief to migrant workers stranded without income away from their home state.
2. MHA order restricting movement of migrant labourers
The order dated March 29 termed the movement of the large number of migrants as a violation of the nationwide lockdown being strictly implemented. The order directed state and UTs governments to ensure adequate arrangement of temporary shelters for these labourers. It also directed that landlords of rented accommodation shall not demand rent for one month from such workers and labourers and if they are forced to evict, such landlords will be liable for action under the Disaster Management Act for violation of order.
3. Disinfection of common public places
Guidelines were issued on March 29 for disinfecting public places as well as offices. It explains how these spaces should be cleaned so as to minimise the risk of infection.
4. Ensuring availability of masks, gloves and sanitizers
The National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority sent a letter dated March 28 to all states and UTs addressing their issue of procuring masks, gloves and sanitizers. It sent them an indicative list of manufacturers for ready reference.
5. NPR and Census Phase I postponed
On March 25, it was conveyed by the Press Information Bureau as well as the Census office that the National Population Register (NPR) exercise as well the Census Phase I which were to be carried out simultaneously from April 1 onwards are postponed until further orders are issued to that regard.
6. Home Secretary letter for nationwide lockdown
The letter dated March 24, states that while the measures adopted are in the right direction, they lack uniformity and hence may not meet the ends of containment. He asked states to ensure social distancing and complete lockdown.
Guidelines for nationwide lockdown from MHA:
Addendum to Guidelines of MHA
Consolidated guidelines (inclusive of addendum)
7. Model Micro plan for containment of local transmission
The Health ministry, on March 24, released a plan for containment and management of local transmission of COVID-19 which included measures such as mapping of affected areas, assigning responsibilities to various functionaries, surveillance, contact tracing, logistics management and so on.
8. MHA order restricting passenger traffic
On March 23, the Ministry of Home Affairs vide an order put a halt on all incoming passenger traffic via air, seaports, land ports, rail as well as river ports. Vehicles carrying essential goods are exempt from this order.
9. Cabinet secretary letter for containment of COVID-19
The letter dated March 22 was sent by the Cabinet Secretary to all state governments directing them to take pre-emptive actions for the management and containment of COVID-19.
10. Directives to Exam Boards
The Human Resources Ministry issued directives on March 18 to get all exam institutions detailing precautions that various exam boards need to take while holding exams as also for postponing certain exams
11. Social distancing
This advisory came on March 16 from the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MOMHFW). It advised states to close all such places with possibility of social gathering such as schools, gyms, tourist centres and such and also asked states to be prepared for the possibility of postponing or cancelling exams for students; as also exploring the possibility of urging private sector employees to work from home.
12. Dead body management
This document was issued on March 15 by the Directorate General of health Services under MOHFW which has given complete guidelines on how to dispose of dead body of a suspect or confirmed case of COVID-19.
13. Essential Commodities order for Hand sanitizers and Masks
BY notification the gazette, on March 13, the Ministry of Consumer Affairs included hand sanitizers and masks in the category of essential commodities hence letting the government have control on the supply, production and pricing of these two commodities.
14. High-level GoM – suspension of Visas
On March 11, the high level Group of Ministers met for the second time and decided to suspend all international visas (barring few visa categories) till April 15 and graded China, Italy, Iran, Republic of Korea, France, Spain and Germany as high risk countries requiring mandatory quarantining of people who have travelled from these countries after February 14 for 14 days.
15. Invoking Disaster Management Act, 2005
On March 11, the government also invoked the Disaster Management Act, thus indicating the outbreak of the epidemic COVID-19 as a disaster.
16. Mass gatherings
This advisory was issued early, on March 5 where all states were advised to avoid mass gatherings in their respective states.
17. Guidance document for COVID-19 surveillance
This document came as early as January 25 when the government and the rest of the world, for that matter, was unsure of whether this disease can be transmitted from person to person. This document included directing states to send health status report of passengers returning from China, which was the only high risk country at that point in time.
Guidelines for public
1. For senior citizens
The health department issued these guidelines on March 29 as “Do’s and Don’ts” for senior citizens, asking them primarily to stay at home, to completely isolate and not entertain visitors, exercise and so on.
2. Use of masks by general public
This document of guidelines was issued on March 11 for informing people on who should be using masks and how to use them. It specifically states that a healthy person need not wear a mask, except in certain situations like caring for an ill person, having cough or cold, or while visiting a health care facility.
3. Home quarantine
These guidelines were issued on March 11 for suspected cases of COVID-19 limited to the initial phase of the epidemic whereby people with travel history and people who came in contact with them were being quarantined.
4. Home delivery of drugs
Through a notification issued on March 26, the Health department allowed the doorstep delivery of medicines by a licensed person and described who a licensed person is and what steps should that person take while accepting delivery orders and thereafter as well.
Welfare packages announcements
1. Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana
This was announced on March 26, 2 days after a nationwide lockdown was announced by the Ministry of Finance. This included insurance cover for health workers, provision of wheat/rice, pulses for next 3 months to the poor, increase in MNREGA wages and so on.
For health care sector
1. SOP for transporting a suspect/confirmed case of COVID-19
This SOP, released on March 29 gives a detailed step by step guide on how to transport a COVDI-19 patient using special ambulances, maintenance of availability of hospital beds, disinfection as well as decontamination of ambulances.
2. Hydroxychloroquine made a schedule H1 drug
Vide a Gazette notification dated March 26, the MOHFW directed that Hydroxychloroquine be treated as a Schedule H1 drug which means it can be brought only by prescription. This was done after a few deaths in other countries where this drug was self-administered by suspected/confirmed cases of COVID-19.
3. Telemedicine practice guidelines
The Medical Council of India in collaboration with NITI Aayog, on March 25, prepared some guidelines allowing doctors to provide health care on a call. This was done in order to enable easy access to health care so as to avoid people traveling to clinics and hospitals for minor health ailments. This was done to enable doctors to prescribe medicines over a telephone call with their patients.
4. Guidelines on rational use of PPE
On March 24, the Health ministry issued guidelines to health care sector worker on optimum and rational use of the personal protective equipment (PPE) provided to them while treating or doing related activities for COVID-19 cases. The PPE include goggles, face-shield, mask, gloves, coverall/gowns (with or without aprons), head cover and shoe cover.
5. Advisory for Hospitals and Medical Education Institutions
This advisory was issued to hospitals on March 20, asking them to postpone elective surgeries, to procure adequate oxygen masks and ventilators, to have enough well-trained staff as well as some administrative steps to be taken.
6. Indian Council of Medical Research testing guidelines: https://www.mohfw.gov.in/pdf/LabTestingAdvisory.pdf
7. Discharge guidelines: https://www.mohfw.gov.in/pdf/Corona%20Discharge-Policy.pdf
8. Specimen Collection, Packaging and Transport Guidelines
These set of guidelines were issued on January 20 to all hospitals, clinics, laboratories to guide them on specific requirements of testing suspects of COVID-19.