Covid-19: One-third of India’s districts record over 5% test positivity rate

Almost one-third of districts are showing a high test positivity rate of over 5%, a criteria to gauge high SARS-CoV-2 spread. The number of districts reporting a test positivity rate of over 10% has gone up 328% in a week from 28 to 120.

The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare’s district-wise statistics for the week January 3-9 reveal that about 226 of the 733 districts in India are reporting a high test positivity of over 5%. Of the 226 districts, 120 districts across 29 states are reporting a positivity of over 10%. In the week ending January 3, about 28 districts across 10 states were reporting over 10% positivity rate. Test positivity rate is the percentage of tests (conducted through Rapid Antigen testing kits or RT-PCR) which are Covid-19 positive over the total tests conducted in the district.

As per the World Health Organisation (WHO), a test positivity of over 5% is a cause for concern for a country. The health ministry has been keeping a track of the test positivity rates by classifying districts into three categories – those with over 10% positivity, between 5% and 10% and less than 5%.

As per the ministry data, there were 43 districts across 24 states which were reporting a 5-10% positivity in the week ending January 3. This has increased to 106 across 23 states.

All districts of Delhi are in the red, with over 10% positivity rate. For the first time in many months, districts in poll-bound Uttarakhand and UP are in 10% positivity zones. Delhi reported an all-time high positivity of 25% on Monday.

The Centre has struck a note of caution on hospitalisation. It has asked all states to keep a close watch on hospitalisation as it could increase. So far, the hospitalisation rate is about 5-10% as compared to the 20-23% in the Delta-driven wave last year. In a letter to states, health secretary Rajesh Bhushan said: “During the second surge of Covid cases in the country, it was seen that the percentage of active cases that needed hospitalised care were in the range of 20-23%. In the present surge, 5-10% of active cases have needed hospitalisation so far. The situation is dynamic and evolving, therefore, the need for hospitalisation may also change rapidly. All states/ UTs are advised to keep a daily watch on the situation of total number of active cases, cases under home isolation, number of hospitalised cases, cases on oxygen beds, ICU beds and on ventilatory support.” The ministry has asked states to rope in retired healthcare professionals, MBBS students, interns, senior residents, junior residents and nursing students to augment health services.

Health minister Mansukh Mandaviya held a review meeting with Maharashtra, MP, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Goa, Dadra and Nagar Haveli and Daman and Diu on Monday.

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