The Centre has deputed high-level multi-disciplinary teams to 10 states for supporting them in public health measures for Covid-19 response and management. The states are Maharashtra, Kerala, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Punjab, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, and Jammu and Kashmir.

In a statement issued on Wednesday, the health ministry said that the teams will work closely with the states and Union Territories to find out the cause of the recent surge in coronavirus cases. They will also coordinate with health authorities of the state concerned to take measures to break the chain of transmission of the infection, it said. The three-member teams are led by joint secretary-level officers of the health ministry.

Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan also wrote a letter to Maharashtra, Kerala, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Punjab, and Jammu and Kashmir – states that have witnessed a surge in cases, along with decreasing proportion of RT-PCR tests and a rise in positivity rate in some districts. In the letter, Bhushan asked the six states and the one Union territory to focus on aggressive measures to break the chain of transmission and ensure that RT-PCR testing is intensified to find undetected cases.

“These States/UT have been advised to increase testing in a focussed manner in the affected districts with the appropriate split of RT-PCR and Rapid Antigen Tests and to also ensure that all symptomatic negatives of antigen tests are compulsorily tested via RT-PCR tests,” the statement said. “The positive persons must be promptly isolated/hospitalised, all their close contacts be traced and also tested without delay.”

The ministry also warned the states against any laxity in implementing stringent measures to curb the spread, especially in view of new strains of the coronavirus found in certain countries. “The Union health secretary has separately requested the chief secretaries of these 10 states and UTs to provide time to these high-level central teams to debrief the respective chief secretaries at the conclusion of their state visits,” the statement added.

Maharashtra, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Punjab, Karnataka and Gujarat accounted for 86.15% of the 13,742 new coronavirus cases reported in the last 24 hours, as of Wednesday morning.

Top six states that account for 86.15% of India's daily case tally on Wednesday. (Source: Ministry of Health)

Various states have started taking preventing measures to check the spread of the infection. Delhi on Wednesday reportedly made it mandatory for people coming from Maharashtra, Kerala, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Punjab to produce a negative Covid-19 certificate. Karnataka too has asked people from Maharashtra and Kerala to produce a negative coronavirus certificate, obtained through a test taken 72 hours before their journey to the state.

The Chhattisgarh government has directed authorities to screen people coming from other places through different modes of transportation. The Punjab government has said the number of people allowed in indoor gatherings will be capped at 100, while for those held outdoors, it will be 200.

The Maharashtra government on Sunday imposed new restrictions in several districts. A week-long lockdown was announced in Amravati from Monday. Pune, on the other hand, said restrictions will be imposed on night-time movement and large gatherings.

India on Wednesday registered 13,742 new coronavirus cases, taking the overall count to 1,10,30,176. The country’s toll rose to 1,56,567 as 104 deaths were reported in the last 24 hours. The number of active cases stood at 1,46,907, while the number of recoveries reached 1,07,26,702.