A health worker takes a swab sample of a passenger at Bandra train station in Mumbai, India, Wednesday, Feb. 17, 2021. Health officials have detected a spike in COVID-19 cases in several pockets of Maharashtra state, including in Mumbai, the country's financial capital. (AP Photo/Rafiq Maqbool)(AP)
A health worker takes a swab sample of a passenger at Bandra train station in Mumbai, India, Wednesday, Feb. 17, 2021. Health officials have detected a spike in COVID-19 cases in several pockets of Maharashtra state, including in Mumbai, the country's financial capital. (AP Photo/Rafiq Maqbool)(AP)

Centre tells states to scale up testing as Covid-19 trajectory witnesses surge

The instructions come as the country witnessed a spike of 86,711 cases of the coronavirus disease this week taking the infection tally close to 11 million.
By hindustantimes.com | Written by Kanishka Sarkar, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
UPDATED ON FEB 21, 2021 12:59 PM IST

As India’s active Covid-19 caseload witnessed a rise this week, pushing the country’s disease curve upwards, the Centre on Sunday wrote to states and Union territories advising them to step up testing to contain the spread of the virus at the earliest. 

The central government has asked states to work on five major areas—improve the overall testing numbers by focusing on increasing the proportion of RT-PCR tests, refocus on strict and comprehensive surveillance as well as stringent containment in selected districts, regular monitoring of the mutant strains through testing followed by genome sequencing and monitoring of the emerging cluster of cases, focus on clinical management in districts reporting higher deaths and all negative rapid antigen test results to be mandatorily followed by RT-PCR test. 

The instructions come as the country witnessed a spike of 86,711 cases of the coronavirus disease this week taking the infection tally close to 11 million. Of the 10,991,651 positive cases, 145,634 are active, which accounts for 1.32% of the total confirmed cases. 

The upward trend rides on the back of a sudden upsurge of cases in Kerala and Maharashtra. The Union ministry of health and family welfare said that more than 74% of the active cases are in these two states. “Of late it is seen that there has been a spike in the daily cases in Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh also. Punjab and Jammu and Kashmir too are witnessing a surge in daily new cases,” it added. 

Maharashtra continues to report the highest daily new cases at 6,281 while Kerala added 4,650 new cases. Only two states – Maharashtra and Kerala account for 77% of daily new cases reported over the last 24 hours, the health ministry said.

Pointing towards weekly data, the ministry stated that in Kerala the average weekly cases have fluctuated between a high of 42,000 to a low of 34,800 in the last four weeks. The weekly positivity in Kerala has ranged from 13.9% to 8.9% during the same period. According to the government, the southern state’s Alapuzha district is a cause of special concern where the weekly positivity rate has increased to 10.7% and weekly cases have increased to 2,833.

Meanwhile in Maharashtra, the weekly cases have increased from 18,200 to 21,300 in four weeks and the corresponding positivity has also increased from 4.7% to 8%. The areas of concern are the Mumbai Suburban areas where the weekly cases have risen by 19%. In Nagpur, Amravati, Nashik, Akola and Yavatmal the weekly cases have increased by 33%, 47%, 23%, 55% and 48% respectively, the ministry added.

Five states and UTs of Chandigarh, Goa, Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, and Maharashtra -have weekly positivity rates higher than the national average. While the national average is 1.79%. Maharashtra has the highest weekly positivity rate with 8.10%, the health ministry stated.

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