Centre ticks off Kerala for fall in COVID-19 tests, delayed fatality reports

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New Delhi: The Union Health Secretary has written to the Kerala government pointing out that the tests held to detect COVID-19 in the state has declined by one-fifth compared to August. He has also asked the state to ramp up the testing and report fatalities in a time-bound manner.

The average daily Covid testing rate in Kerala last week was 56,071, but the state had conducted up to 2.96 lakh tests during the week of August 9-15. Even while stating that the daily Covid cases have been declining in the country, the letter pointed out that if sufficient testing is not conducted, it is not possible to determine the actual level of infection spread.

Apart from Kerala, the Centre has also written to Nagaland, Sikkim, Maharashtra, West Bengal, Goa, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Jammu & Kashmir, Punjab, Rajasthan and Ladakh with similar directives.

Reporting Covid deaths

Kerala has also failed to report Covid deaths in a time-bound manner, according to the Centre. Of the total deaths reported from the state, around 83 per cent had been added in the recent months. As per the latest figures, Kerala has been reporting the most number of deaths in the country in the last three months. Of the total new cases reported in the country this month, around 56.6 per cent is from Kerala and the state accounts for 77.4 per cent of the deaths. The surge is being reported even when Covid death rate across the country is declining.

COVID fatalities reached 38,353 on Wednesday, Nov 24, after 273 previously undocumented deaths and 35 recent ones were added to the list maintained by the state.

Kerala has reported 511,395 COVID-19 cases so far since the first case in the countrty was reported from the state in late January 2020.

No booster dose?

India is reportedly not considering to administer booster dose vaccines for better immunity against Covid for now. None in the advisory group for immunisation is in favour of the booster dose, sources indicate. Instead, it has been decided to administer the second dose at the earliest for those who have taken the first dose. Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya is also of the same opinion.

AIIMS director Dr Randeep Guleria said that even if there is a third wave, it is unlikely to be as severe as the first and second waves. He further said that there was no need for booster doses in the country.

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