Express News Service

NEW DELHI: Union health secretary Rajesh Bhushan on Friday shot off a letter to Kerala asking it to step up the measures for curbing the rapid transmission and expanding the Covid vaccination coverage, especially for those due for their second doses. 

Kerala, reporting over half of India’s daily new Covid cases at present, has also been logging over 30,000 fresh cases every day for the last few days while the test positivity rate has reached over 20%. 

In a letter to the state chief secretary, Bhushan pointed out that all 14 districts in the state have been identified as districts of concern due to high test positivity rates and high cases per million reported in the past four weeks. 

More worryingly, Thrissur, Kozhikode, and Ernakulam have reported more than 4,000 cases per million population in the week ending August 25. 

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The letter stressed that contact tracing effort should be further scaled up to ensure that at least 20-25 contacts per positive cases are tested while targeted testing also needs to be enhanced in containment zones and especially cover high risk contacts.

The state administration was also instructed to ensure genomic surveillance in areas of high and sustained transmission and asked to send samples of all cases of vaccine breakthrough infections for genome sequencing while clinic-epidemiological assessment of such cases should also be carried out. 

“While expanding the coverage of Covid19 vaccination is required, it is reiterated that a state specific strategy to complete the second dose vaccination of due beneficiaries may be devised,” the letter said. 

In a separate letter to Maharashtra, Bhushan advised imposing local restrictions to restrict public gatherings ahead of festivities such as Dahi Handi and Ganpati Utsav. 

Bhushan, along with Union home secretary Ajay Bhalla on Thursday had carried out a review of the Covid19 situation in the two states on Thursday.