Centre asks 19 states, UTs, including Arunachal, to ramp up Covid testing to identify cases, restrict spread

NEW DELHI, 30 Dec: The Centre on Thursday urged 19 states and union territories to ramp up Covid testing “in a big way” to identify cases promptly and restrict its spread in view of the increased transmissibility of the Omicron variant, and the larger preponderance of asymptomatic cases.

A decline of over 50 percent has been seen in testing in Arunachal Pradesh (68 percent), Assam (58 percent) and Nagaland (52 percent), it noted.

The other states and UTs where testing is low includes poll-bound Punjab, Goa, Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh.

Comprehensive, adequate and smart testing is an important step in controlling the transmission of the virus, Health Ministry Additional Secretary Arti Ahuja said in a letter to the states and UTs concerned.

“The need for enhanced testing is even greater today, keeping in mind the increased transmissibility of Omicron, and the larger preponderance of asymptomatic cases. Besides, ramping up testing in the initial days itself will help to ensure that the infected individual does not spread the virus to others,” Ahuja said.

“However, it is observed that there has been a considerable decline in Covid-19 testing in some states, which is a cause of serious concern,” she said.

The official advised the states and UTs to ensure focussed and comprehensive testing as per extant ICMR guidelines and to ramp up testing in a big way to identify Covid-positive case promptly and also to restrict transmission.

“It is also important to ensure other logistics like sufficient stock of testing reagents and kits, etc, are maintained, so that there are no stock-outs or shortages,” Ahuja said.

She asked the states and the UTs to review the same and ensure sufficient stock as well as regular arrangement of testing facilities, consumables and logistics.

A total of 961 cases of the Omicron variant have been detected across 22 states and UTs so far, while the daily rise in Covid-19 cases crossed the 13,000 mark after around 49 days, taking India’s total tally of infections to 3,48,22,040.

The count of active cases in the country has increased to 82,402, according to the data updated at 8 am. (PTI)