The Union government has asked all states and Union Territories to resume testing influenza-like illness and severe acute respiratory infections to check the spread of the coronavirus disease, reported PTI.

Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan cited the resurgence of coronavirus cases in South East Asia for issuing the directions.

Influenza-like illness and severe acute respiratory infections occur when a person has a fever with body temperature above 38 degree Celsius, has cough and 10 days have passed since the onset of the symptoms, according to the World Health Organization. In severe acute respiratory infections, a person also requires hospitalisation.

Testing for influenza-like illness and severe acute respiratory infections were used for Covid-19 management by the government. Though, it was stopped after India began recording a steady decline in daily coronavirus cases.

In his letter, Bhushan also asked all states and Union Territories to ensure that they collect an adequate number of samples and submit them to the Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genetics Consortium for detection of new Covid-19 variants.

“All the states and Union Territories must observe all precautions and not let the guard down while resuming economic and social activities,” the letter said.

The health secretary also asked the states to ensure that all eligible people get vaccinated against Covid-19.

He said that in view of the increase in cases across South East Asia and some countries of Europe, Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya had held a meeting with states on March 16 and advised them to focus on “aggressive genome sequencing, intensified surveillance and overall vigil on the Covid-19 situation”.

The health secretary’s advisory came amid the World Health Organization’s warning that the rise in coronavirus cases in some countries could be the “tip of the iceberg” and that the pandemic is not over.

The number of new coronavirus infections jumped by 8% last week globally, as 1.1 crore new cases and over 43,000 deaths were recorded between March 7 and March 13. It is the first weekly rise in cases since the end of January.

The biggest rise in cases was recorded in World Health Organization’s western Pacific region, which includes South Korea and China, where cases increased by 25% and deaths by 27% between March 7 and March 13.

At least 10 cities and counties in China have been locked down because of the latest surge in the Covid-19 cases driven by the Omicron variant of the virus.

Globally, the coronavirus has so far infected 46.59 crore people and caused 60.65 lakh deaths since the pandemic began in January 2020, according to the data provided by the John Hopkins University.

India on Friday recorded 2,528 new coronavirus cases, taking the infection count in the country to 4,30,04,005. With 149 deaths, the toll climbed to 5,16,281.

There are 29,181 active coronavirus cases in the country and so far 4,24,58,543 people have recovered from the infection.

India’s daily positivity rate stood at 0.4%, government data showed.