Medical staff conduct a door-to-door medical screening inside Dharavi slums (AFP)

NEW DELHI: In a move to escalate contact tracing in response to the rising number of Covid cases in various states in the “unlock” phase, the Centre has asked states to ensure contacts of at least 80% of new cases are traced and quarantined within 72 hours of confirmation of the positive case.
The directive, which entails a major step-up in what states are supposed to do, comes in the wake of the infection spreading and even making a return in states like Kerala, despite a “steep upturn” in recoveries per million population as compared to active cases.
The directive comes as daily testing capacity has gone up. The rise in cases in states like Rajasthan, Karnataka, Goa, Punjab and Jharkhand is still not as high as as badly hit states like Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and Delhi, but the virus’s capacity to spread fast is a cause of concern.
In just one month, Bengaluru has gone from a city where the virus was seen to be under control to registering a sharp spike.
As many as 22,252 fresh cases of Covid-19 were reported on a single day on Monday, according to the health ministry, taking the total count to more than 7 lakh. There are 2,59,557 active cases, whereas 4,39,947 have recovered.
Experts said speedy contact tracing and quarantine of positive or active cases will help break the chain of transmission. The ministry said the “test, track and treat” strategy adopted by the Centre and state governments had showed a “steep upturn” in recoveries as compared to active cases. India has 315.8 recovered cases per million while active cases per million are at 186.3.
“In India, states with a high caseload are turning their focus on early identification and effective clinical management of positive cases to ensure that recovery/million is more than active cases/million. This shows that while the total number of positive cases might be high, the recoveries are fast catching up, thereby keeping the active cases low. This has also ensured that Covid healthcare facilities are not under pressure and are not stretched,” the health ministry said.
Along with testing, contact tracing and house-to-house surveys have been intensified, especially in containment zones. States have developed many mobile apps to keep track of high-risk population, including the elderly, those with co-morbidities, pregnant women and children.