The Centre on Saturday told states and union territories to closely monitor the trend of influenza-like illnesses and expressed concern about a gradual increase in the Covid-19 positivity rate.

“While the COVID-19 trajectory has decreased substantially in last few months, the gradual rise in COVID-19 test positivity rates in some states is a concerning issue that needs to be promptly addressed,” Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan said in a letter to states and union territories.

The letter urged authorities to ensure adequate stock of drugs, medical equipment and medical oxygen in hospitals.

Cases of Influenza A have been on the upswing since the latter half of December, the Centre said.

“Of particular concern is preponderance of Influenza A (H3N2) being detected in the samples being analysed in various labs,” the Centre said. “It should also be kept in mind that young children, old age people and people suffering from co-morbidites are particularly at risk and vulnerable to H1N1, H3N2, adenoviruses, etc.”

On Friday, the health ministry had said that two persons died due to the H3N2 influenza virus, marking the first fatalities due to the infection. The deaths were reported in Karnataka and Haryana.

According to the World Health Organization Influenza type A viruses are of concern to public health due to their potential to cause an influenza pandemic. Both H1N1 and H3N2 swine flu virus subtypes. Animal influenza type A viruses are different from human influenza viruses and do not easily transmit among humans, said the international health body.

The Union health ministry on Saturday said it was important to raise community awareness about following respiratory and hand hygiene. It added that it is important to promote early reporting of symptoms, and limiting contact of those people who are suffering from respiratory illness.

State and district Integrated Disease Surveillance Programme units have been asked to closely follow the trend of these cases and monitor the proportion of cases and refer sufficient number of samples for testing for influenza, SARS-CoV-2 and adenovirus.

Adenoviruses typically cause a mild cold- or flu-like illness. Those with weakened immune systems or existing respiratory or cardiac diseases face a higher risk of developing serious illness.

India reports 524 new Covid-19 cases – highest in 113 days

The country registered 524 new coronavirus cases on Sunday, taking the overall tally to 4,46,90,492 since the pandemic began in January 2020.

The number of new Covid-19 cases was the highest in 113 days, according to PTI.

The toll increased to 5,30,781 as Kerala registered one death due to the disease. The fatality had taken place earlier but the state classified it as a coronavirus-related one on Saturday.

The nationwide recovery rate is currently at 98.80%, according to official figures.