The Central government has urged nine states and a Union Territory to step up Covid-19 testing to prevent the spread of the highly contagious Omicron variant.
Expressing concern over a considerable decline in Covid-19 testing in eight states and a Union territory, the Centre said this is happening when COVID infections are on the rise across the country.
In a letter dated January 5, Additional Secretary in the Health ministry, Arti Ahuja said that the decline in Covid-19 testing and rise in positivity rate is a “cause of concern”. She said that it is impossible to know the actual extent of the spread of the virus in the community without adequate testing.
She advised the States and J&K to ensure the availability of sufficient stock of testing kits and make prompt arrangements for testing facilities, consumables and logistics.
“With the increased detection of the Variant of Concern (VOC), Omicron, and a majority of countries seeing multiple surges in cases despite high levels of vaccination, there is a need for continued vigil and efforts to prevent any deterioration of the Covid-19 scenario,”
Ahuja said in the letter to Bihar, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Odisha, Punjab, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Jammu and Kashmir.
“Keeping in mind the unpredictable and highly transmissible behaviour of Omicron and the larger preponderance of asymptomatic cases, ramping up testing in the initial days itself will help to ensure that the infected individual does not spread the virus to others,” she emphasized.
India reported over 90,000 new COVID-19 cases and the biggest single-day jump of 495 Omicron cases in the last 24 hours, the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare said on Thursday morning. A total of 2,630 confirmed cases of Omicron has been reported in India so far, according to data put out by the Health ministry.