Noting that India’s COVID-19 cases trajectory in the second wave is “worrying”, the centre said states like Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh, Uttar Pradesh and Gujarat need to ramp up RT-PCR tests.
Addressing a press conference, Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan said the centre is continuously trying to help states and union territories in tackling the pandemic in a more effective manner.
He said the previous highest surge has already been crossed and the “trend is going upward and that is a cause for worry”.
The previous highest surge was 94,372 daily cases in September which is now 1,61,736 every day while the daily deaths are also showing an increasing trend, Mr Bhushan said.
In case of Maharashtra, he said the average daily cases week-on-week have grown significantly and have reached a level of over 57,000.
“The tests per million are also growing but they are not keeping pace with the average daily cases. The share of RT-PCR tests is progressively coming down so that is something we repeatedly request the state to address,” he said.
Mr Bhushan said the ideal proportion is 70 per cent RT-PCR tests and 30 per cent rapid antigen tests as both are important.
Rapid antigen tests have their value as a screening test in areas which are densely populated and in those areas which are showing recent cluster of new cases. Those who test negative in RAT have to be mandatorily subjected to RT-PCR tests, he said.
For Maharashtra, the weekly positivity rate is very high at 24.66 per cent and this is when RT-PCR tests are relatively low so “we have reason to believe that if RT-PCR proportion go up then the positivity may show a corresponding increase and it is not specific to Maharashtra but to all such states”.
“We have offered to the states that if they desire then they could make use of mobile testing laboratories. These technologies have been perfected through the country and they are being provided in a cost effective way. RT-PCR machines have also been put on government e-market place GEM so procurement could be easier and take lesser time,” Mr Bhushan said.
He said in Chhattisgarh, the average daily cases up to 11504 and RT-PCR ratio very poor.
“The weekly positivity rate in case of Chattisgarh is increasing from 1.40 per cent to 27.95 per cent. This is another cause of concern,” he said.
In Uttar Pradesh, Mr Bhushan said from average 89 cases per day it has increased to 10,000 cases a day.
“Average tests per million are increasing but not at the corresponding rate of cases. The average RT-PCR test is 45 per cent and it has to be ramped up. The weekly positivity rate is below 5 per cent but it is showing a rising trend,” he said.
For Punjab, over 3000 daily cases are being reported and average tests per million have increased but not in the same proportion as the number of cases. The RT-PCR share is 70 per cent. A decline in weekly positivity rate is being seen but it is still 8 per cent, he said.
In Karnataka, Mr Bhushan said from 404 daily cases in February mid, now 7776 new cases are being reported.
“The average RT-PCR test is quite good, it is 92.2 percent but the weekly positivity rate is increasing and it is at 6.45 per cent now,” he said.
In Gujarat, from 275 cases per week they have increased to 4500 cases, Mr Bhushan said.
“The tests per million have substantially increased from 267 to 1574 but they have to be increased further. If we look at the share of RT-PCR tests it is still hovering around 48-50 per cent and it needs to go up. Weekly positivity is again climbing up,” he added.
In Madhya pradesh, Mr Bhushan said from 267 cases now the average cases per day are 4912.
“The tests per million 441 there is needed to further increase it. The RT-PCR rate is 73 per cent which is a matter of satisfaction but the weekly positivity rate continues to be 13.06 per cent,” he said.
Tamil Nadu also has a similar situation, from 450 daily cases in February mid the cases have increased to over 5000. The average tests per million increased but is reducing now. Weekly positivity rate is over 7 per cent now, Mr Bhushan said.
In Delhi, he said from average 134 cases, a weekly average of over 8000 new cases are being reported now. The tests per million is 5256 need to be further increased.
“The RT-PCR share has increased too and needs to be further increased. The weekly positivity rate has increased,” he said.
In Haryana, daily cases have increased to 2900 every day.
“Average tests per million have increased but it has to be further increased. The RT-PCR share is good. it is 89.4 per cent while the weekly positivity rate is continuously increasing which is a matter of concern that is why there is a need to increase these tests,” Mr Bhushan said.
“In Kerala, we were seeing a declining trend but the cases have again started increasing in the past three weeks. In Kerala, cases were 1800 per day but it is again over 5000 now. The average tests per million was declining and this needs to be increased. The RT-PCR test is 43 per cent and this has to be increased too. The weekly positivity rate had gone below 2 per cent, it has now increased to 8.13 per cent,” he said.
Mr Bhushan said apart from these states the cases are also rising in other parts of the country.
“These are the states of concern but cases are also increasing in other states. Wherever cases increase we advise states to scale up test, track treat and follow COVID appropriate behaviour and vaccination. We need to efficiently implement these,” he said.
Mr Bhushan said there are 53 central teams which are camping in 53 districts of the country which are showing a surge in cases and these central teams are helping the district administration as well the state administration particularly health department and revenue officials in tackling the pandemic.