Noting a decline in covid-19 testing, the central government on Wednesday wrote to over 13 states including West Bengal, Kerala, Maharashtra and Punjab, to ramp up testing as the coronavirus cases in these states are surging and weekly testing rates are decreasing. 

Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan through a letter written to Nagaland, Sikkim, Maharashtra, Kerala, Goa, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Jammu and Kashmir, Punjab, Rajasthan, West Bengal and Ladakh emphasised 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. 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,” Bhushan said in the letter 

Bhushan said that 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, he added. 

“Hence, all efforts must be implemented to preserve the gains made so far and to prevent deterioration of covid-19 scenario across the country,” said Bhushan in the letter. At the national level, the last 24 hours saw a total of 11,57,697 tests being conducted. India has so far conducted over 63.47 Crores (63,47,74,225) cumulative tests. While testing capacity has been enhanced across the country, Weekly Positivity Rate at 0.93% remains less than 2% for the last 61 days now. The Daily Positivity rate reported to be 0.80%, the government data showed. The daily Positivity rate has remained below2% for last 51 days and below 3% for 86 consecutive days now. 

The government also failed to reach its target of 4.5-5 million covid-19 tests per day, which it wanted to achieve by the end of June. After reaching 1 million tests per day in December 2020, the rate dropped in January 2021 to only 400,000 per day, with a positivity of 1.9%. After the second wave, testing again increased to 1.9-2 million and this showed a positivity of 15-17%. Since then, the rate of testing has decreased steadily in June, July and August from 1.8 million to 1.7 million to 1.6 million tests and now averaging to 1.2 million a day. 

At least 9,283 new coronavirus cases were reported in the last 24 hours. The Active Caseload presently stands at 1,11,481. Active cases presently constitute 0.32% of the country’s total Positive Cases, which is lowest since March 2020. Meanwhile, India’s covid-19 vaccination coverage exceeded neared 119 Crores as on Wednesday. 

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