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Centre concerned over declining Covid testing rates in 13 states, UTs

Centre concerned over declining Covid testing rates in 13 states, UTs
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New Delhi: Citing multiple surges in Coronavirus cases in several countries, the Union Health Ministry has written to 13 states and union territories, including West Bengal, Kerala, Maharashtra and Punjab, expressing concerns over declining weekly testing rates and spiking positivity rates in some districts.

In a letter to Nagaland, Sikkim, Maharashtra, Kerala, Goa, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Jammu and Kashmir, Punjab, Rajasthan, West Bengal and Ladakh, Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan stressed on maintaining high testing rates given the recent increase in travelling due to events like marriages, festivals and vacations that have recently concluded or are underway.

"A decrease in testing would undermine the actual infection spread within the community," Bhushan said in the letter. Also, with the onset of winter and increased pollution in some states, prevalence of ILI/SARI and respiratory distress symptoms should be closely monitored, with tests being conducted regularly for timely monitoring and clustering of cases for early hotspot identification, the official underlined.

"In the absence of sustained levels of sufficient testing, it is very difficult to determine the true level of infection spread in a geography. With a majority of countries seeing multiple surges in Covid cases in recent times and a few developed countries facing even fourth and fifth waves despite high levels of Covid vaccination, there is a need for continued vigil given the unpredictable and contagious nature of the disease. "Hence, all efforts must be implemented to preserve the gains made so far and to prevent deterioration of COVID-19 scenario across the country," the secretary said.

All the 13 states and UTs have been given the same advice though each letter mentions state-specific testing details of particular districts and positivity rates.

According to the Union Health Ministry data updated on Wednesday, India added 9,283 new Coronavirus infections taking the country's tally of COVID-19 cases to 3,45,35,763 of which 3,39,57,698 people have recuperated, while the active cases declined to 1,11,481, the lowest in 537 days.

The death toll climbed to 4,66,584 with 437 fresh fatalities that include 370 from Kerala and 19 from Maharashtra, while the national case fatality rate was recorded at 1.35 per cent, according to the data updated at 8 am.

The daily rise in new Coronavirus infections has been below 20,000 for 47 straight days and less than 50,000 daily new cases have been reported for 150 consecutive days now.

The active cases comprise 0.32 per cent of the total infections, the lowest since March 2020, while the national COVID-19 recovery rate was recorded at 98.33 per cent, the highest since March 2020, the ministry said.

A decrease of 2,103 cases has been recorded in the active COVID-19 caseload in a span of 24 hours.

The daily positivity rate was recorded at 0.80 per cent. It has been less than two per cent for last 51 days. The weekly positivity rate was also recorded at 0.93 per cent. It has been below two per cent for the last 61 days, according to the ministry.

The cumulative COVID-19 vaccine doses administered in the country crossed 119 crore on Wednesday. Over 79 lakh vaccine doses were administered on Wednesday till 7 pm.

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