The health ministry has written to thirteen states where the weekly rate of Covid testing has dropped even though the total daily cases in the country to around 10,000.
“In the absence of sustained levels of sufficient testing, it is very difficult to determine the true level of infection spread in a geography,” Rajesh Bhushan, health secretary said.
He said that with several countries seeing 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 was a need for continued vigil given the unpredictable and contagious nature of the disease.
Health ministry has written to health departments of Nagaland, Sikkim, Maharashtra, Kerala, Goa, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, J&K, Punjab, Rajasthan, West Bengal and Ladakh.
The health ministry has also drawn attention of these states on “worrying trends” in tests, tests per million, positivity rate and higher dependence on rapid antigen tests in various districts.
“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,” Bhushan said.
In its letter to each state, the health secretary has highlighted the falling test numbers from earlier peaks and specific districts where the ratio of RTPCR tests has gone down and test positivity has gone up.
For instance, West Bengal conducted 38,600 daily tests in the week ending November 22 as against 67,644 daily average tests in the week of May 31 to June 6. Health ministry said it was worrying that the state has recorded in week ending November 22, having stagnated over past four weeks.
High positivity of 9.7 per cent in Kerala is also of concern in the backdrop of fall in test numbers in November to about a quarter of the tests being conducted in August.
With the onset of winter and increased pollution in some states, the government has asked states to closely monitor the prevalence of respiratory distress symptoms along with regular testing and clustering of cases for early hotspot identification. “A decrease in testing would undermine the actual infection spread within the community,” Bhushan added.