Over 150% rise in Covid cases in 70 districts, states asked to boost testing


At least 70 districts spread over 12 states and union territories have logged an over 150% increase in Covid-19 cases over the last two weeks, the Union health ministry said on Wednesday, urging the administrations to ramp up testing as well as vaccinations in these regions in order to rein in the outbreak.

The warning came on a day when the country recorded 35,836 cases, the highest since December 5. The number is now a clear indicator of the country having entered a second wave of infections, at least in some regions, after a low seen over a month ago.

“The Centre has advised these states to look at ways to quickly increase the number of vaccinations in these districts that are also reporting increased positivity rate. The vaccination process should be more targeted and better focused in these areas,” said Rajesh Bhushan, Union health secretary, during the weekly media briefing on Covid-19 updates.

The top officials also said the option of opening the vaccination drive up for more people is on the table but the focus at present is to maximise reach among those who qualify. “It is being considered by the experts but first, our aim is to cover as much elderly population as possible. Once this group is taken care of substantially, then other categories will be opened up,” said Dr VK Paul, member (health), Niti Aayog.

India has till now given a little over 36 million doses of coronavirus vaccines. Till 7pm, 1.4 million doses had been administered on Wednesday.

“Most of these districts are located in the western and northern part of India. In fact, these districts are located in certain specific states only. However, the way in which the positivity rate is increasing in most of these districts, the number of tests is not being increased accordingly,” he said.

There are 55 other districts in 17 states that have reported an increase between 100 and 150% in the corresponding period (between March 1 and 15), the officials said at the briefing.

“Our advice to these states, especially Maharashtra, which has 60% of the current active case load, is that they have to increase the number of tests. Among Covid-19 tests, proportion of RT-PCR test should be increased up to 70% at least, but should not go below that,” Bhushan added.

The officials also said they are monitoring the Kumbh Mela in Haridwar, where experts fear an outbreak could occur.


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