NEW DELHI: Even though India’s Covid-19 positivity rate has been steadily declining over the last three weeks and has come down to 7.19% on November 8 from 7.94% on October 18, the health ministry raised concerns over dip in daily tests in some states like Punjab, Assam and Rajasthan and over delayed hospitalisation in Himachal Pradesh resulting in more deaths.
Warning against any complacency, the Centre said respiratory viruses have a tendency to spread rapidly during winters. Moreover, the long festival season poses a significant risk that could threaten the gains made so far in fighting Covid-19.
The health ministry held a review meeting with officials of 10 states on Monday to draw attention to problems in their management strategy. These states included Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Kerala, West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Haryana, Assam, Punjab and Himachal Pradesh.
The Centre raised concerns about Punjab’s case fatality ratio (CFR) which is currently at 3.15 — the highest in the country and more than double the national average of 1.49. Within Punjab, the CFR is higher in some districts such as Fatehgarh Sahib (4.7), Roopnagar (4.8), Tarn Taran (4.5), Kapurthala (4.1) and Ludhiana (4.07). The Centre asked the state to examine the causes for high fatalities in these districts.
Daily average tests in Punjab have also declined in the last few weeks, officials said.
During the review meeting, the health ministry also highlighted considerable decline in testing in Assam and asked state authorities to explore the reasons. “The testing numbers show a sharp fall in Assam,” a senior health ministry official said.
“Our data shows that on October 22, 42,452 tests were conducted. That number fell to 28,884 on November 4. Though the number of daily cases has decreased across all districts, the decreased testing is a cause for concern,” he added. Similarly, in Rajasthan, positivity rate is higher in districts like Ganganagar, Alwar, Bikaner, Jodhpur and Jaipur. Raising concerns over delayed hospitalisation leading to death of Covid patients in Himachal, the Centre asked the state to strengthen monitoring of patients who are in home isolation and ensure their quick hospitalisation if their situation worsened. In Himachal, 50% of deaths were found to happen within 48 hours of hospitalisation, most of these within 24 hours, the official said.