Kerala, which has the highest number of active Covid-19 patients in India, needs to substantially increase the RT-PCR test rate, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare said on Tuesday. Maharashtra, which has the second-highest active cases, but only almost half of Kerala’s present active caseload, has also been asked to increase their RT-PCR test rates. Both the states account for 72% of the active COVID-19 cases in the country.
The Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan said in a press briefing that both these states have 61,550 and 37,383 active cases, respectively. “This accounts for 72% of the total active cases in the country,” he said. Responding to a question on the reason behind more active cases in these two states, he said one of the reasons might be that the number of RT-PCR tests has gone down.”Over a period of time, both in Maharashtra and in Kerala, the number of RT-PCR tests have gone down and there is a need to substantially increase RT-PCR tests. This is something we have shared with both the states,” he said.
NITI Aayog member (Health) VK Paul said there is a need to keep following Covid-19 appropriate behaviour. “If we look at Kerala, the increase in the number of cases can be traced since the time of festivals. There is a scope to increase testing in both the states too and attempts to increase surveillance intensity must be made. We should keep maintaining vigil,” he said.
Meanwhile, recently Kerala government issued a direction asking health officials to collect two samples — for Rapid Antigen test and RT-PCR test — simultaneously from symptomatic persons, as it was observed that many are not conducting RT-PCR test once the Rapid Antigen test declares them negative. Therefore, to ensure that positive cases don’t go missing, swab samples for both the tests will be collected together. If a person is declared negative after an Antigen test, samples for RT-PCR will be sent for testing at once.