Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Thursday asked Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Adityanath to increase the coronavirus testing rate in his state, reported NDTV. In a meeting held to review the coronavirus situation in Delhi-the National Capital Region, Shah also asked the chief ministers of the Capital, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh to focus on more testing by adopting rapid antigen tests.
Besides Delhi, the National Capital Region comprises eight districts in two states. The districts in Haryana are Rohtak, Jhajjar, Sonipat,Gurgaon and Faridabad. The ones in Uttar Pradesh include Gautam Buddha Nagar, Ghaziabad and Baghpat. These areas have seen a steady rise in the number of Covid-19 cases.
Among the three states, the testing rate was found to be the lowest in Uttar Pradesh. Shah questioned why the Gautam Buddha Nagar administration was conducting only 72 tests per million (10 lakh) of the population, while Ghaziabad had just 78 tests for every million people.
Adityanath assured the home minister that he has already given instructions to ramp up testing among high-risk workers, who include people employed in the informal sector such as rickshaw drivers and vegetable vendors.
Besides Chief Ministers Arvind Kejriwal, Manohar Lal Khattar and Adityanath, the meeting was also attended by Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan.
Shah asked the officials to reduce the death, or mortality rate below 1%. “When history is written, people will not remember how many recovered,” Shah told the chief ministers. “They will remember how many people died during this pandemic.”
Shah asked the states to adopt rapid antigen tests and ensure early hospitalisation to bring down mortality. “Adoption of more testing via rapid antigen test kits will help in reducing infection transmission rate below 10%, as suggested by the World Health Organization,” he said according to The Indian Express. “Nearly 90% of screening is possible through these kits. These can be provided by the Centre to UP and Haryana in numbers desired by them.”
The home minister also spoke of the need to map the prevalence of coronavirus in the NCR through extensive use of Aarogya Setu and the Itihaas app. In terms of accessing treatment for Covid-19, Shah said Uttar Pradesh and Haryana can conduct telemedicine consultation with Delhi’s All-India institute of Medical Sciences, through which patients can get advice from experts.
“The meeting largely focussed on extending help, in terms of material support and expertise that has been extended to Delhi, to UP and Haryana as well,” an unidentified home ministry official told The Indian Express. “The idea is to have a unified approach for NCR.”
The coronavirus has infected 92,175 people in Delhi and killed 2,864, as of Thursday. In Uttar Pradesh, the coronavirus tally has reached 24,056 cases, including 718 deaths, according to the health ministry. A total of 14,941 Covid-19 cases were detected in Haryana and the virus has claimed 240 lives in the state, so far.
On June 28, Shah said that the Centre decided to step in to handle the coronavirus situation in Delhi, after Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia’s remark that the national Capital will have 5.5 lakh cases by July 31. Last month, the home minister held multiple meetings with Kejriwal and Delhi Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal to discuss the coronavirus situation in the Capital.