Directs them to increase the proportion of RT-PCR tests and subject Rapid Antigen negative people to mandatory retest by RT-PCR
The Centre has written to States — Kerala, Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Punjab and J&K — which are witnessing a daily surge in the number of daily COVID-19 cases directing an increase in proportion of RT-PCR tests while ensuring that those testing negative with Rapid Antigen be retested by RT-PCR. Centre has also asked states to look into strict, comprehensive surveillance and stringent containment to curb the spread of the virus.
In its release issued on February 21 the Health Ministry said that more than 74% of the active COVID-19 cases of the country are in Kerala and Maharashtra and that a spike in cases has been seen in some States.
“India has been witnessing a rise in the active caseload over the past few days and its total active caseload is pegged at 1,45,634 currently,’’ said the Ministry.
It added that in the last four weeks in Kerala the average weekly cases have fluctuated between a high of 42,000 to a low of 34,800 and the weekly positivity here has ranged from 13.9% to 8.9%. In Kerala, the district of Alappuzha is a cause of special concern where the weekly positivity rate has increased to 10.7% and weekly cases have increased to 2,833 said the Ministry.
In Maharashtra, in the last four weeks, the weekly cases have shown a rising trend and have increased from 18,200 to 21,300 and 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.
Data released by the Ministry said that Punjab too is rapidly assuming a critical dimension with COVID-19 infection registering a positivity rate from 1.4% to 1.6 % in the last four weeks.
The States have also been told to `”regularly monitor for mutant strains through testing followed by Genome Sequencing, as well as monitoring of the emerging cluster of cases and focusing on clinical management in districts reporting higher deaths”.
The Ministry added that 22 States/UTs have not reported any COVID-19 deaths in the last 24 hours and five States — Maharashtra, Kerala, Punjab, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka — account for 80% of the new deaths. Maharashtra saw the maximum casualties (40). Kerala reported 13 deaths. Punjab has reported another 8 casualties. India has reported 101 COVID deaths in the last 24 hours.
The Ministry added that a total of 1.06 crore (1,06,89,715) people have recovered from COVID-19 so far, while 11,667 patients have recovered and got discharged in the last 24 hours. India’s recovery rate at 97.25% is amongst the highest in the world. “Currently 81.65% of the new recovered cases are observed to be concentrated in five States. Kerala has reported the maximum number of single day recoveries with 5,841 newly recovered cases, 2,567 people recovered in Maharashtra in the past 24 hours followed by 459 in Tamil Nadu,” said the Ministry.