Centre flags three-fold fall in Covid testing rate

Centre flags three-fold fall in Covid testing rate

A health worker collects a sample. file

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, November 24

With many countries seeing multiple Covid surges, the Centre on Wednesday sent out letters to 13 states and UTs, including Punjab, where the number of average weekly tests, that are critical for determining the level of infection in the community, has fallen drastically.

The Centre’s letter for need to raise testing has also been sent to Kerala (where average daily tests fell from 2.96 lakh in week ending August 15 to 56,071 in week ending November 22), Maharashtra, Mizoram, Manipur, J&K, Goa, Nagaland, Rajasthan, Ladakh, West Bengal, Sikkim and Meghalaya.

In a letter to Punjab Health Principal Secretary Vikas Garg today, Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan flagged a nearly three-fold fall in the average daily tests being conducted by the state between May and November.

As per the letter, Punjab has reported 24,300 average daily tests as on week ending November 22. This is in stark contrast to a high of 71,257 average daily tests conducted by the state in the week between May 17 and 23.

The health ministry told the state that in the absence of sustained levels of sufficient testing, it was difficult to determine the true level of infection spread in a geography.

“With the majority of countries seeing multiple surges in Covid cases in recent times and few countries facing even fourth and fifth waves despite high levels of Covid vaccination, there is a need for continued vigil given the unpredictable and contagious nature of the disease. It is therefore important that the state maintains high testing given the recent increase in travelling due to various events such as marriages, festivities and vacations having either recently concluded or underway,” states the letter.

The health secretary also said although new cases have declined significantly at a national level, with 10,195 average daily cases in the week ending November 22, it has been observed that there has been a corresponding decline in weekly testing rates also.

Health Secy writes to 13 states, UTs

The Centre’s letter for need to raise testing has also been sent to Kerala (where average daily tests fell from 2.96 lakh in week ending August 15 to 56,071 in week ending November 22), Maharashtra, Mizoram, Manipur, J&K, Goa, Nagaland, Rajasthan, Ladakh, West Bengal, Sikkim and Meghalaya

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