The Centre’s advisory came even as around 60% of the total new cases were reported from just five states. Maharashtra alone contributed 23,577 and Andhra Pradesh had 10,418 cases on Wednesday.
Health ministry sources said the Centre was keen on ensuring more testing, particularly in states with a high positivity rate, but also pointed to the laxity that has crept into public behaviour. They said only widespread use of masks would help reduce incidence of the disease.
Deaths are also rising every day. Of the total 1,172 deaths in the past 24 hours till Thursday morning, 69% were concentrated in five states and Union territories — Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Delhi and Andhra Pradesh. Maharashtra alone accounted for 32% of new deaths.
In a letter written jointly by health ministry and Indian Council of Medical Research, the Centre said it was necessary to ensure that such symptomatic negative cases under RAT do not remain untested and do not spread the disease among their contacts.
It was also emphasised in the letter that while RAT was being used to increase access and availability of testing in the field, RT-PCR remained the gold standard of Covid-19 tests. The protocols have to be followed closely, the Centre has insisted, pointing to the need to test symptomatic negatives and follow asymptomatic negatives for a few days to ensure they too are tested if they develop symptoms.
The total number of active cases in the country stood at 9,19,018 on Wednesday, the ministry said.