Keeping in view the rising cases of COVID-19, Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan on Thursday wrote to the States and Union Territories urging them to be proactive in such a situation.
“There has been a sustained and significant decline in the number of COVID-19 cases across the country during the past four months. However, in the past two weeks, an upsurge in cases has been noticed. In the week ending 8th June, 2022, 4,207 average daily new cases were reported as compared to 2,663 average daily cases in the week ending 1st June, 2022,” the Union health secretary Rajesh Bhushan said in a letter to the states.
There has also been an increase in the weekly positivity rate from 0.63 per cent (week ending June 1, 2022) to 1.12 per cent (week ending June 8, 2022). According to the union health ministry data, in the last 24 hours, 7,240 new COVID-19 cases have been reported in the country, out of which, 81 per cent cases have been reported from 4 states of Maharashtra, Kerala, Delhi and Karnataka (in descending order of number of new cases reported), he further said in the letter.
“In previous letters, specific strategic areas of intervention for the States/UTs like testing and surveillance, clinical management, vaccination, COVID appropriate behaviour and community engagement with an increased focus on evidence-based decision-making was underlined,” Bhushan said in the letter.
“Given the significance of adequate testing in early identification of cases and providing an accurate picture of the level of infection spread, it is required that States/UTs must ensure high level of testing in all such areas that are reporting new cases/cluster of cases. State/UTs must also monitor average daily testing per million as well as share of RT-PCR in total tests conducted,” he said, “this will enable States/UTs to take timely pre-emptive action wherever required.”
States/ UTs must also enhance monitoring of influenza like illness and severe acute respiratory illnesses (SARI) cases in all health facilities on a regular basis for detecting early warning signals of the spread of infection, Bhushan said in the letter.
The Union Health Ministry also said that Genome Sequencing of prescribed samples of international passengers as well as collection of samples from Sentinel Sites (identified health facilities) and local cluster of new COVID-19 cases is equally important.
Bhushan said, “Such samples must be sent promptly by the State/UT to the designated lab of INSACOG network for Genome Sequencing.”
States/UTs must not lower their guard and continue working towards building on the progress made thus far to bring the pandemic situation under control, he noted.