The Centre on Tuesday advised Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Maharashtra and Mizoram to maintain a strict watch and take pre-emptive action, if required, in the areas of concern to control any emerging spread of the coronavirus.
As these states and the Union Territory of Delhi are reporting a higher contribution to India's COVID-19 caseload and a higher positivity rate, the Centre advised them to focus on monitoring clusters of new cases and containment efforts for curbing the spread of the infection as well as on vaccination of the eligible population, including primary vaccination and administration of precaution doses.
In a letter, Union health secretary Rajesh Bhushan advised Delhi and the four states to follow the five-fold strategy of "test-track-treat-vaccination and adherence to Covid-appropriate behaviour", with a particular emphasis on wearing of masks in crowded areas.
"It is essential that the states must maintain a strict watch and take pre-emptive action, if required, in any areas of concern to control any emerging spread of the infection. Testing and surveillance still remain important to track the virus, its spread and evolution," Bhushan said in the letter.
Laxity at any level may nullify the gains achieved in COVID management so far, he underlined.
India has witnessed a sustained and significant decline in the number of fresh COVID-19 cases over the last two months, with the country reporting about 1,000 daily cases for the past few weeks. The weekly positivity rate has remained below one per cent, Bhushan pointed out in the letter.
The Union health secretary advised all the states and Union territories to follow a risk assessment-based approach on the opening of economic and social activities, without losing the gains made in the fight against the pandemic so far.
Monitoring of influenza-like illness and SARI cases at all health facilities on a regular basis for detecting early warning signals of the spread of the infection, genomic sequencing for the prescribed samples of international passengers, collection of samples from sentinel sites (identified health facilities as well as sewage samples) and local clusters of cases have been also advised.
Bhushan highlighted that Delhi has reported an increase in the number of new cases from 998 in the week ending April 12 to 2,671 in the week ending April 19. The Union Territory has also seen an increase in the Covid positivity rate from 1.42 per cent to 3.49 per cent last week.
Haryana has reported an increase in the number of new cases from 521 in the week ending April 12 to 1,299 in the week ending April 19. It has also seen the positivity rate going up from 1.22 per cent to 2.86 per cent last week, Bhushan pointed out in the letter.
Uttar Pradesh has reported an increase in the number of new cases from 217 in the week ending April 12 to 637 in the week ending April 19. It has also seen an increase in the positivity rate from 0.03 per cent to 0.09 per cent last week.
Maharashtra has reported 693 new cases in the week ending April 19. The state has also seen an increase in the positivity rate from 0.39 per cent to 0.4 per cent last week.
Mizoram has reported 539 new Covid cases in the week ending April 19 and has also witnessed an increase in the positivity rate from 16.11 per cent to 16.68 per cent, the letter stated.