The Centre on Sunday wrote to the states and Union Territories that have been experiencing a resurgence of coronavirus infections, and directed authorities there to improve the overall testing numbers by focusing on increasing the proportion of reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction or RT-PCR tests.

Not just that, but all negative Rapid Antigen Test results are to be mandatorily followed by RT-PCR test, the government has instructed. It further called for strict and comprehensive surveillance, and stringent containment in affected districts to curb the spread of Covid-19.

The government also instructed states to regularly monitor cases of new mutant strains through testing followed by Genome Sequencing, while also keeping an eye on the emerging cluster of cases. In districts reporting higher deaths, it asked authorities to focus on clinical management.

After registering a downward trend for days, India is once again witnessing a rise in coronavirus cases. On Sunday, the country reported 14,264 new cases , as the total number of cases went up to 1,09,91,651. This was the highest number of daily infections recorded in 23 days.

More than 74% of the the active cases are concentrated in Kerala and Maharashtra, the health ministry said in a statement. There has also been an increase in daily cases in Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh, Punjab and Jammu and Kashmir.

A closer look at the state wise data paints an even more alarming picture. Sample this, in the last four weeks in Kerala, the government said that the average weekly cases have fluctuated between a high of 42,000 to a low of 34,800. Similarly, in the last four weeks, the weekly positivity in Kerala has ranged from 13.9% to 8.9%. The district of Alappuzha is a cause of special concern where the weekly positivity rate has increased to 10.7% and weekly cases have increased to 2,833, the health ministry said.

Also read:

Five steps the Indian government must take to ensure an effective rollout of Covid-19 vaccines

In the last four weeks in Maharashtra, the weekly cases have increased from 18,200 to 21,300, while the weekly positivity has also grown from 4.7% to 8%.

Punjab is also rapidly registering a rise in infections. In the last four weeks, the weekly positivity rate has increased from 1.4% to 1.6%, while the weekly cases in the last four weeks have seen a jump from 1,300 to 1,682, the health ministry said. In one district of SBS Nagar alone, the weekly positivity rate went up to 4.9% from 3.5% and the weekly cases have more than doubled from 165 to 364.

Additionally, five states and Union Territories - Chandigarh, Goa, Andhra Pradesh, Kerala and Maharashtra - have a weekly positivity rate higher than the national average, the health ministry said. For instance, the national average is 1.79%, while Maharashtra has a weekly positivity rate of 8.10%, which is the highest anywhere in the country.