Spread Faster Than In 1st Wave, Next 4 Weeks Very Critical:
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A worryingly low share of RT-PCR tests in most high burden states, including Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh, Punjab, Gujarat, Delhi and Kerala, is resulting in higher positivity rates and hurting containment measures to control Covid-19, officials said. Senior government officials emphasised that the next four weeks are going to be critical as the pandemic is spreading faster than it did earlier as cases rise across the country.

“The intensity of the pandemic has increased. In some states, it is worse but the upswing is happening all across the country. The next four weeks are very critical,” Niti Aayog member Dr V K Paul said. Maharashtra, which is witnessing a swift rise in cases and accounts for 57.42% of total active cases, saw a fall in RT-PCR tests over the last few weeks. Only 60% of tests were RT-PCR last week, as against 71.6% during Feb 10-16.

Seven out of top 10 districts with high active cases are in Maharashtra and apart from the state, the Centre again expressed concern over Chhattisgarh and Punjab. The share of RT-PCR tests in Chhattisgarh is as low as around 30%. In Punjab where the tests comprise over 76% of the total, the share is constantly declining along with total number of tests, Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan said.

“We have suggested that the state governments increase the percentage of RT-PCR tests to take it to 70% or above,” Bhushan said. Officials said though the number of cases is increasing as are mortality numbers, India is still doing better than other countries. “In terms of the population size and in terms of deaths per million, we are doing well and the pandemic is in control,” Paul said.

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