Centre asks states to increase RT-PCR tests, speed up vaccination to check COVID spread

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New Delhi, Mar 23 (PTI) Amid a spike in COVID-19 cases in some parts of the country, the Centre on Tuesday asked all states and union territories to enhance proportion of RT-PCR tests, strictly enforce test-track-treat protocol and speed up the pace of vaccination to cover all priority groups.

Issuing fresh guidelines for April, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) said keeping in view the fresh surge in COVID-19 cases, the new positive cases, detected as a result of intensive testing, need to be isolated or quarantined at the earliest and provided timely treatment.

The state governments and UT administrations should strictly enforce the test-track-treat protocol in all parts of the country, ensure observance of COVID-19-appropriate behaviour by everyone and, scale up the vaccination drive to cover all the target groups, the guidelines said.

All contacts have to be traced at the earliest, and similarly isolated and quarantined, it said.

The Home Ministry said based on the positive cases and tracking of their contacts, containment zones shall be carefully demarcated by the district authorities at the micro level taking into consideration the guidelines prescribed by the Union Health Ministry.

The states and UTs where the proportion of RT-PCR tests is less should rapidly increase it to reach the prescribed level of 70 per cent or more of total tests.

The authorities, based on their assessment of the situation, may impose local restrictions at district or sub-district and city or ward level, with a view to contain the spread of COVID-19, the guidelines said.

The ministry said the government of India has launched the world's largest vaccination drive against COVID-19.

While the vaccination drive is proceeding smoothly, the pace is uneven across different states and UTs and, the slow pace of vaccination in some states and UTs is a 'matter of concern', it said.

The guidelines said that the vaccination against COVID-19, in the present scenario, is critical to break the chain of transmission and hence all state and UT governments should rapidly step up the pace of vaccination to cover all priority groups in an expeditious manner. PTI ACB SMN