Centre writes to states reporting spike in daily COVID-19 cases

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New Delhi, Feb 21 (PTI) Amid a spike in daily new cases of COVID-19 in some states including Maharashtra and Kerala, the Centre has advised them to increase the proportion of RT-PCR tests and regularly monitor mutant strains besides refocusing on strict surveillance and stringent containment in selected districts.

In a letter to the states, the government has also stressed that all negative rapid antigen test results should be mandatorily followed by RT-PCR test. India has been witnessing a rise in the COVID-19 active caseload over the past few days which is pegged at 1,45,634 as on date and now consists of 1.32 per cent of India's total infections.

'More than 74 per cent of the active cases of the country are in Kerala and Maharashtra. 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,' the ministry said.

In the last four weeks in Kerala, the average weekly cases have fluctuated between a high of 42,000 and a low of 34,800. Similarly, in the last four weeks, the weekly positivity in Kerala has ranged from 13.9 per cent to 8.9 per cent. In Kerala, the district of Alappuzha is a cause of special concern where the weekly positivity rate has increased to 10.7 per cent and weekly cases have increased to 2,833, the ministry underlined.

In Maharashtra, in the last four weeks, the weekly cases have shown a rising trend and have increased from 18,200 to 21,300; while the weekly positivity has also increased from 4.7 per cent to 8 per cent. The areas of concern are the Mumbai suburban areas where the weekly cases have risen by 19 per cent. In Nagpur, Amravati, Nashik, Akola and Yavatmal the weekly cases have increased by 33 per cent, 47 per cent, 23 per cent, 55 per cent and 48 per cent, respectively, the ministry underscored.

Punjab is rapidly assuming critical dimension in respect of the spread of COVID-19 infection, the ministry highlighted adding in the last four weeks, the weekly positivity rate in the state has increased from 1.4 per cent to 1.6 per cent, while the weekly cases in the last four weeks have seen a rise from 1300 to 1682. In one district of SBS Nagar alone, the weekly positivity rate has become 4.9 per cent from 3.5 per cent and the weekly cases have more than doubled from 165 to 364.

Five states and UTs have weekly positivity rate more than the national average of 1.79 per cent. Maharashtra has the highest weekly positivity rate with 8.10 per cent, the ministry said The Centre has advised all these states to work on five major areas. They have been advised to improve the overall testing numbers by focusing on increasing the proportion of RT-PCR tests.

It has asked them to refocus on strict and comprehensive surveillance as well as stringent containment in selected districts and conduct regular monitoring of the mutant strains through testing followed by genome sequencing, as well as monitoring of the emerging cluster of cases, the ministry stated. They have also been asked to focus on clinical management in districts reporting higher deaths. PTI PLB DV DV