The Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has asked states and Union Territories to ensure that the contacts of at least 80% of new cases are traced and quarantined within 72 hours of confirmation of infection.
The Centre’s directive came amid a rapid escalation in India’s coronavirus numbers. India is currently the third worst-affected in the world with 7,67,296 infections and 21,129 casualties. The country reported its highest ever single-day surge in cases – 24,879 – on Thursday. A total of 1,07,40,832 samples have been tested so far, according to the Indian Council of Medical Research. As many as 2,67,061 of these samples were tested on Wednesday.
The central and state/UT governments are following the “test, track and treat” strategy to manage Covid-19, the ministry said in a statement on Tuesday.
“In India, the States/UTs with high case load of COVID-19 are turning their focus on early identification and effective clinical management of positive cases to ensure that recovery/million is more than active cases/million,” the ministry said. “This shows that while the total number of positive cases might be high but the recoveries are fast catching up, thereby keeping the active cases low. This has also ensured that COVID healthcare facilities are not under pressure and are not stretched.”
States have followed the Centre’s direction to increase testing with the use of RT-PCR tests and Rapid Antigen Tests, the statement added. “States have developed several mobile apps to keep track of high risk population including the senior and elderly population, people with comorbidities, pregnant women and small children,” the ministry said. “The involvement of the community, ASHAs and ANMs at the local government has led to effective surveillance in the community.”
Besides testing, contact tracing and house-to-house surveys have also been intensified in containment zones, the Centre added.
The sharp increase in coronavirus numbers is worrying since India has now entered the second phase of coronavirus lockdown relaxations, as part of its “Unlock 2” phase in the fight against the pandemic.
All means of transportation, except metro services and international flights, have opened up. Inter-state movement has been permitted, and malls, restaurants and religious places have been opened. From Monday, several monuments in non-containment zones across the country have also opened to the public. Training institutions of state and central governments will be allowed to function from July 15, though schools and colleges will be shut till July 31 at least.
However, states and Union Territories were allowed to decide what amenities would be permitted outside containment zones, depending on the coronavirus situation there. Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu extended the lockdown till July 31, and Nagaland till July 15. States also extended the lockdown in certain cities such as Chennai, Madurai, Thiruvananthapuram and Guwahati to control the situation.
The countrywide lockdown was first imposed on March 25, and was extended four times prior to the “Unlock 1” phase.