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Amid growing fresh wave of covid infections abroad, the Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan has written a letter to the state governments expressing concern over the alarming fall in testing rates for COVID-19, as it threatens to undermine the efforts to contain the pandemic.

The Union Health Secretary wrote to the state governments of Nagaland, Sikkim, Maharashtra, Kerala, Goa, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Jammu and Kashmir, Rajasthan, West Bengal and Ladakh over the decline in weekly covid-19 testing rates.   

"In the absence of sustained levels of sufficient testing, it is very difficult to determine the true level of infection spread in a geography," Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan said in a letter sent to the northeastern state of Nagaland, which has reduced testing by more than a third in two months.

The letter highlighted that, “it is important that the state government maintains high testing given the increase in travelling, due to various events such as marriages, festive celebrations, vacations. A decrease in testing would undermine the actual infection spread within the community." 

India reported on Wednesday 9,283 new COVID-19 cases, a day after recording 7,579 infections - the lowest in 543 days. But testing has hovered around 1 million per day for the past few weeks, less than half the capacity.

"With a majority of countries seeing multiple surges in COVID cases in recent times and a few developed 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."

The ministry delivered the same warning to other states, though each letter contained observations specific to the various states' circumstances.

So far, there have been 34.5 million infections reported in the country, while the cases of deaths rose by 437 on Wednesday to 466,584.

Earlier in the week, Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan wrote a letter to Additional Chief Secretary and Principal Secretary of all states and Union Territories to ramp up the COVID-19 vaccination drive in the country under the 'Har Ghar Dastak' campaign.

To ensure that all eligible adult population is vaccinated at the earliest the letter read, "as you are aware, under the National COVID-19 Vaccination Programme, till date, more than 114 crore doses of COVID vaccines have been administered across all States and UTS. To ensure that all eligible adult population is vaccinated at the earliest, 'Har Ghar Dastak' campaign has been launched by the Prime Minister on November 3, 2021. This will continue till November 30, 2021. The Districts should identify all left-out beneficiaries and mobilize them to get vaccinated on a priority basis." 

With 'Har Ghar Dastak' campaign, the Centre is targeting to complete maximum single dose and second dose adult COVID-19 vaccination in the country. It was launched on November 2 on the occasion of Dhanwantari Diwas.

 

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