The effective strategy of "test, track and treat" has yielded results at the height of the novel coronavirus pandemic, the centre said today in a reminder to the states that are witnessing a high active caseload. Eight states and union territories - Haryana, Andhra Pradesh, Odisha, Goa, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand and union territories of Delhi and Chandigarh - have been told to increase testing, contact tracing and accelerate vaccination for priority groups in the worst-hit districts.
Sixty-three districts in the eight states and union territories "continue to be of concern as these districts are seeing a decrease in total tests being conducted, low share of RT-PCR tests, increase in weekly positivity and low number of contact tracing of the COVID positive cases," the Union Health Ministry said in a statement today. "These together can pose high risk of transmission to the neighboring states and union territories," the Health Ministry said. Of those identified by the government, nine districts are in Delhi, 15 are in Haryana, 10 in Andhra Pradesh, 10 in Odisha, nine in Himachal Pradesh, seven in Uttarakhand, two in Goa, and one in Chandigarh.
An average close contact tracing "of minimum of 20 persons per positive case," should be conducted, the government has said in a suggested action plan that also stresses on improved overall testing and an active monitoring of "super-spreader events".
"Make optimal use of the available vaccine doses and focus on critical districts, and collaborate with the private hospitals to open up vaccination time-table for a minimum of 15 days and maximum of 28 days at a time," the states were told as Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan and Dr Vinod K Paul, Member (Health), NITI Aayog, held a meeting with health secretaries of these states.
High-level teams have also been rushed to Punjab and Maharashtra to control the spread of the deadly virus. The teams are "being deployed to assist the state health departments in COVID-19 surveillance, control and containment measures," a separate official statement said today.
These teams have been given the task to confirm the reason for the surge in the infections. Among those visiting Punjab is National Centre for Disease Control chief Dr Surjeet Singh - his visit to the state is significant as the centre looks to step up fight against the deadly virus. A senior official of the Disaster Management Cell - Dr P Ravindran - will lead the team to Maharashtra, which reported 10,216 new coronavirus cases on Friday, the highest number of single-day cases in nearly five months.
With over 21 lakh infections, Maharashtra has logged the highest number of cases so far. While Punjab has recorded a total of 1.86 lakh cases so far, it reported over 800 fresh infections on Friday - third highest number of cases in the country in 24 hours.
Across India, more than 1.1 crore total cases have been recorded; 18.327 cases were logged in the last 24 hours, the government said this morning. 21 states and union territories have less than 1,000 active cases, the centre said, adding that eight states are seeing a spike in infections.
Yesterday, 14.9 lakh people got the Covid shots across the country, highest in a day since vaccines were rolled out on January 16. More than 1.9 crore doses have been administered so far. The government has set a target to inoculate 30 crore people till July.