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Surge in Covid-19 cases, Union Health Sec writes to UT’s, states

Representational

SRINAGAR: Amid growing fresh wave of covid infections in many countries, the Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan has shot a letter to the state governments expressing concern over the alarming fall in testing rates for COVID-19, as it threatens to undermine the efforts to contain the pandemic.

The Union Health Secretary wrote to the state governments of Nagaland, Sikkim, Maharashtra, Kerala, Goa, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Jammu and Kashmir, Rajasthan, West Bengal and Ladakh over the decline in weekly covid-19 testing rates.

“While there has been a significant decline in the new cases with 10,195 average daily cases reported in week ending 22 November, it has been observed that there has also been a decline in weekly testing rates,” reads the letter.

The letter reads: “In the absence of sustained levels of sufficient testing, it is very difficult to determine the true level of infection spread in 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 wave 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 & to prevent deterioration of Covid-19 scenario across the country.”

The letter states that Nagaland has reported 342 average daily tests as of the week ending 22nd November. “This is in stark contrast to a high of 1,250 average daily tests conducted in the week of 23rd 29 August. It is also worrying to note that the state has recorded a positivity of 1.5% in the week ending 22nd November, having stagnated over the past 4 weeks, with an abysmally low share of RT-PCR tests. i.e., 8.2%,” it reads.

It further reads that worrying trends with regards to tests, tests per million, positivity rate and higher dependence on Rapid Antigen tests have been observed in various districts of the State. Annexure 1 lists down the number of tests conducted in the districts in the last 4 weeks, the weekly positivity rates, average TPM and the average share of RT-PCR tests in the total tests done. “The positivity in districts such as Mokukchong and Peren have been above 2.5%, with RT-PCR share falling below a decent proportion of the total tests,” reads the letter as per KNO.

The letter states that it is important that the State maintains high testing given the recent increase in travelling, due to various events such as marriages, festive celebrations, vacations having either recently concluded or underway. “A decrease in testing would undermine the actual infection spread within the community. 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 conducted regularly for timely monitoring and clustering of cases for early hotspot identification,” the letter reads.

It reads that, “I am sure under your continued leadership we will be able to maintain the momentum and build on the progress made so far to bring the pandemic situation under control. Ministry of Health and Family Welfare assures of any requisite support to the State in the ongoing and collective efforts against COVID-19.”—(KNO)

 

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