The Union government has asked nine states and Union Territories to boost coronavirus testing amid the spread of the Omicron variant, reported PTI on Thursday. These states and Union Territories are Tamil Nadu, Punjab, Odisha, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Mizoram, Meghalaya, Jammu and Kashmir and Bihar.

In a letter sent on Wednesday, Additional Secretary of Union health ministry Arti Ahuja pointed to a decline in testing in the places amid a rise in positivity rates and said it was a “cause of concern”.

“Keeping in mind the unpredictable and highly transmissible behaviour of Omicron and the larger preponderance of asymptomatic cases, 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.

She noted that the Omicron variant has led to an alarming rise in coronavirus cases in many countries even if they had high vaccination levels and said that more cases were the variant were being detected in India.

“There is a need for continued vigil and efforts to prevent any deterioration of the Covid-19 scenario,” she said.

The additional health secretary said that without sufficient testing, it would not be possible to determine the true level of infection spread in the community.

She also advised the states and Union Territories to ensure that sufficient stocks of testing kits are available and regular arrangement of testing facilities are made.

India is witnessing an alarming rise in coronavirus cases in the past few days amid the spread of the coronavirus variant.

Cases of the Omicron variant increased to 2,630 on Thursday from 2,135 a day ago. Omicron was first reported in the country on December 2 and has now spread to 26 states and Union Territories.

India on Thursday morning recorded 90,928 new coronavirus cases in the last 24 hours 56.5% higher than Wednesday’s count of 58,097 infections.

On Wednesday, Joint Health Secretary Lav Agarwal had said that India has reported a 6.3 times increase in daily coronavirus cases in the last eight days. Agarwal also pointed out that the test positivity rate increased from 0.79% on December 29 to 5.03% in the country.

On December 29, India had recorded 7,347 new coronavirus cases.