The Union Health Ministry has issued a missive asking 11 states and two Union Territories to ramp up testing to cover the population and provide more accurate data for "missing cases" that would not be acknowledged otherwise. The Health Ministry acknowledged that while rates of Covid-19 infections were going down, testing rates had also dipped.
States and territories directed to increase the testing are Nagaland, Sikkim, Maharashtra, Kerala, Goa, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Punjab, Rajasthan, West Bengal, Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh. Nagaland in particular recieved a stark warning to increase testing given that the state having "recorded a positivity of 1.5% in the week ending 22nd November, having stagnated over the past 4 weeks, with an abysmally low share of RT-PCR tests. i.e.,8.2%," according to the letter quoted by Hindustan Times.
"With a majority of countries seeing multiple surges in Covid cases in recent times and a few developed countries facing even fourth and fifth wave despite high levels of Covid vaccination, there is a need for continued vigil given the unpredictable and contagious nature of the disease," the Health Ministry said.
In addition to monitoring cluster cases of Covid-19 and ensuring testing went up, states should also keep an eye on levels of respiratory distress symptoms, influenza-like illness and severe acute respiratory infection in light of the onset of winter and subsequent increase in pollution in some northern states, the letter pointed out. Testing was also important as travel, group functions and other gatherings were on the rise, the Health Ministry warned.