The center told the states to increase the testing as it is difficult to determine the true level of infection spread without sufficient testing.
New Delhi: Taking cognizance of multiple surges in COVID-19 cases in several countries and especially in the west, the central government on Wednesday, November 24, expressed concern that there has been a drop in Coronavirus testing cases in at least 13 states, including the likes of Punjab, West Bengal and Kerala.
The centre's letter to raise testing is given to Maharashtra, Mizoram, Manipur, Jammu and Kashmir, Goa, Nagaland, Rajasthan, Ladakh, Sikkim and Meghalaya.
In Kerala, which the Leftists projected as a model state despite a high number of positive cases, the average daily tests fell from 2.96 lakh in the week ending August 15 to 56071 in the week ending November 22.
The Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan also said that although new cases have declined significantly at a national level, with 10 195 average daily cases in the week ending November 22, "It has been observed that there has been a corresponding decline in weekly testing rates also."
In Congress-ruled Punjab, which saw farmers' protest and set for assembly polls in February-March 2022, it has been stated that there was a nearly three-fold fall in the average daily tests being conducted by the states between May and November.
"Punjab has reported 24,300 average daily tests as of the week ending November 22. This is in stark contrast to a high of 71, 257 average daily tests conducted by Punjab in the week between May 17 and 23," the letter said.
"A decrease in testing would undermine the actual infection spread within the community," Mr Bhushan said in his letter.
Notably, the low testing rates have been reported from West Bengal on a day Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee met Prime Minister Narendra Modi. She later said among other issues, the COVID-19 situation too was discussed.
West Bengal conducted 38,600 daily tests in the week ending November 22 against 67,644 daily average tests from May 31 to June 6. The high positivity of 9.7 per cent in Kerala was also a matter of concern.
The centre has told the states that it is very difficult to determine the true level of infection spread in geography in the absence of sustained levels of sufficient testing.
"With the majority of countries seeing multiple surges in Covid cases in recent times and few countries facing even fourth and fifth waves despite high levels of Covid vaccination, there is a need for continued vigil given the unpredictable and contagious nature of the disease. It is therefore important that the state maintains high testing given the recent increase in travelling due to various events such as marriages, festivities, vacations having either recently concluded or underway."
It has been reported that among northeastern states, the weekly sample tested in Nagaland has been gradually declining each week since August 21-27. Moreover, over 50 per cent of week COVID-19 positive cases detected in Nagaland are from the self-tests/random test category.