Amid a rise in coronavirus infections in some parts of the country, the central government has asked Delhi and six states to ensure adequate testing, promote Covid-appropriate behaviour and increase the pace of vaccination to contain the surge.
In a letter to Delhi, Kerala, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Odisha, Tamil Nadu and Telangana, Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan said upcoming festivals and mass congregations in different parts of the country may potentially facilitate the transmission of infectious diseases, including COVID-19.
It is critical to ensure adequate testing is undertaken in all the districts of the state while maintaining the recommended share of RT-PCR and antigen tests. The state must also closely monitor districts reporting higher cases, positivity rates and clusters to prevent further spread of infection and effective case management, he stressed in the letter dated August 5.
In his letter to Delhi, Bhushan said the national capital has been reporting high average daily new cases (811 cases) for the past month with a high of 2.202 new cases reported on August 5. Delhi has contributed 8.2 per cent of India's weekly new cases in the week ending August 5 and has also recorded 1.86 times increase in average daily new cases from 802 in the week ending July 29 to 1,492 in the week ending August 5.
An increase in the weekly positivity rate was also reported in Delhi — 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 reported 2,347 average cases per day in the past month and Maharashtra 2,135 cases. He also cited district-wise spread of infection.
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He requested states to ensure effective compliance of the revised surveillance strategy for COVID-19 which has been shared by the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. "In view of some changes in symptoms and clinical manifestation of the disease, it is crucial to monitor and report district-wise influenza-like illness (ILI) and SARI cases in all health facilities as per the guidelines, on a regular basis for detecting early warning signals of the spread of infection. This will enable us to take pre-emptive action if required, in any areas of concern," he said.
Stressing genome sequencing of prescribed samples of international passengers as well as collection of samples from sentinel sites and local cluster of new COVID-19 cases is equally important, Bhushan said such samples must be sent promptly by the states and union territories to the designated lab of INSACOG network for genome sequencing. "Renewed attention needs to be paid for ensuring of Covid-appropriate behaviour in crowded places like markets, inter-state bus stands, schools, colleges, railway stations, etc," he said."States should aim to increase the pace of vaccination for all eligible population and accelerate the administration of free precaution doses for 18-plus eligible population at all Government Covid Vaccination Centres (CVCs) under the 'COVID Vaccination Amrit Mahotsav' till September 30," he stated. States were advised to diligently follow the five-fold strategy of test-track-treat vaccinate and adherence to Covid-appropriate behaviour within the community.