A health worker collects a swab sample for a Covid-19 test. Image used for representational purposes only. (Photo: PTI)
New Delhi: With the rise in coronavirus infections in some parts of the country, the central government has asked Delhi and six states to ensure adequate testing, encourage Covid-appropriate behavior and speed up vaccination to stem the rise.
In a letter to Delhi, Kerala, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Odisha, Tamil Nadu and Telangana, Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan said the upcoming festivals and large-scale celebrations in various parts of the country could help spread infectious diseases, including Covid-19.
It is important to ensure that adequate tests are carried out in all districts of the state while maintaining the recommended share of RT-PCR and antigen tests. The state should also closely monitor districts reporting high cases, positivity rates and clusters to prevent further spread of infection and effective case management, he emphasized in the August 5 letter.
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In a letter to Delhi, Bhushan said the national capital has been reporting a high average daily number of new cases (811 cases) since last month and 2,202 new cases were reported on August 5.
Delhi contributed 8.2 percent of India’s weekly new cases in the week ended August 5 and recorded a 1.86-fold increase in average daily new cases from 802 in the week ended July 29 to 1,492 in the week ended August 5.
Delhi also recorded an increase in the weekly positivity rate – from 5.90 per cent in the week ending July 29 to 9.86 per cent in the week ending August 5.
Bhushan said Kerala recorded an average of 2,347 cases per day last month and Maharashtra 2,135. They also spread the infection district wise.
He urged the states to ensure effective compliance with the revised surveillance strategy for COVID-19 shared by the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.
“Given some variation in symptoms and clinical manifestations of the disease, it is important to routinely detect and report district-wise influenza-like illness (ILI) and SARI cases in all health facilities, as per guidelines. Early warning signals of the spread of infection. This will enable us to take pre-emptive action if required in any area of concern,” he said.
Emphasis on genome sequencing of prescribed samples of international travelers as well as collection of samples from sentinel sites and local clusters of new Covid-19 cases is equally important, said Bhushan, who said samples should be immediately sent to laboratories designated by states and Union Territories. INSACOG Network for Genome Sequencing.
“New focus is needed to ensure Covid-appropriate behavior in crowded places like markets, inter-state bus stands, schools, colleges, railway stations, etc.,” he said.
“States should aim to speed up immunization for all eligible population and expedite administration of free precautionary dose to eligible population above 18 at all government Covid Vaccination Centers (CVCs) under ‘Covid Vaccination Elixir’ by September 30.” He said.
States were advised to strictly follow the five-pronged strategy of test-track-treat immunization and follow Covid-appropriate behavior in the community.