Home/ News / India/  Health ministry directs states to accelerate the pace of Covid-19 testing

NEW DELHI: With the spike in Covid and influenza cases across the country, the Central government has directed all the states and union territories to accelerate the pace of Covid-19 testing as a declining trend has been noticed in some states.

In a joint advisory issued by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and health ministry, “ln the past several weeks, in some states Covid-19 testing has declined & the current testing levels are insufficient as compared to the standards prescribed by WHO i.e., 140 tests/million. Testing at the level of districts and blocks also varies, with some states heavily relying on the less sensitive rapid antigen tests. Hence, it is critical to maintain optimum testing for Covid-19, equitably distributed with suitable modifications to address emergence of new cluster of Covid cases across the states. This is especially important to identify any emerging hotspots & take pre-emptive steps to curb virus transmission."

It said that Covid-19 and influenza share several similarities in terms of mode of transmission, high-risk population, clinical signs and symptoms, and hence public health measures like avoiding overcrowded and poorly ventilated settings, using handkerchief/tissue while sneezing or coughing, wearing a mask in crowded and closed settings, maintaining hand hygiene, avoiding spitting in public places, etc.

“States and UTs must keep a close watch on the evolving etiologies of influenza-like illness & severe acute respiratory illness cases. India usually sees a seasonal rise in influenza cases from January to March and again from August to October. Presently, the most prominent subtypes of influenza in circulation in the country seem to be H1Nl and H3N2," read the letter.

ln order to limit transmission of these diseases, it is important to raise community awareness regarding adherence to respiratory and hand hygiene, particularly in overcrowded and poorly ventilated settings, wearing of masks and hand hygiene and increasing the pace of Covid vaccination.

According to the health ministry, most of the active Covid-19 cases in the country are largely being reported by a few states like Kerala (26.4%), Maharashtra (21.7%), Gujarat (13.9%), Karnataka (8.6%) and Tamil Nadu (6.3%).

Priyanka Sharma
Priyanka Shamra is a health and pharma journalist with nearly nine years of field reporting experience. She is a special correspondent with Mint. Her beat includes covering the Ministry of Health and Department of Pharmaceuticals. She also covers the Ministry of Women and Child Development and the Department of Biotechnology.
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Updated: 25 Mar 2023, 05:20 PM IST
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