Coronavirus LATEST Updates: India on Saturday became the third country, after the US and Brazil, to surpass 40 lakh coronavirus cases with a record 86,432 patients testing positive for COVID-19 in a span of 24 hours.
The total coronavirus cases mounted to 40,23,179, while the toll climbed to 69,561 with 1,089 people succumbing to the disease, the health ministry said at its 8 am update earlier on Saturday.
However, daily recoveries also crossed 70,000, taking the total number of those who have recuperated from the disease to 31,07,223. With this, the recovery rate has climbed to 77.23 percent and the COVID-19 case fatality rate has further declined to 1.73 percent, the health ministry said.
At present, there are 8,46,395 active coronavirus cases in the country, which is 21.04 percent of the total caseload, the data showed.
According to the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), a cumulative total of 4,77,38,491 samples have been tested up to 4 September with 10,59,346 samples being tested on Friday.
With cases rising regularly, the medical research body issued a fresh advisory allowing “testing on demand” for all individual but left the modalities to the state governments.
It also advised testing on demand for “all individuals undertaking travel to countries or Indian states mandating a negative COVID-19 test at the point of entry”.
Meanwhile, several states continued reporting record spurts in their daily cases. While Maharashtra recorded its highest-single day spurt in COVID-19 cases with over 20,000 testing positive on Saturday, Karnataka reported 9,746 new COVID-19 cases and 128 deaths.
Kerala too saw its highest daily count of 2,655 fresh infections as did Jammu and Kashmir with 1,251 more testing positive.
Whereas, Andhra Pradesh reported its second highest surge in daily cases with 10,825 patients testing positive on Saturday while the state’s overall tally inched closer to 5 lakh. The state had reported its highest single day tally of 10,830 cases on 26 August.
Three states account for 49 percent active cases, says Centre
As the countrywide caseload soared past 40 lakh, the Centre exhorted the three states Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka — accounting for about 46 percent of active COVID-19 cases and 52 percent of deaths in the 24 hours between 8 am on Friday to 8 am on Saturday — to focus on aggressive measures to break the chain of transmission and keep mortality rate below one percent. The three states also account for nearly 49 percent of the overall active cases in the country.
The states have been advised to proactively ensure higher testing, effective clinical management along with efficient monitoring at various levels to lower fatality, the Union Health Ministry said.
The ministry also highlighted districts in each of these states that raised concern. The need for effective containment and contact tracing was underlined for Pune, Nagpur, Kolhapur, Sangli, Nashik, Ahmednagar, Raigad, Jalgaon, Solapur, Satara and Palghar districts of Maharashtra.
In Andhra Pradesh, Prakasam and Chittoor were highlighted as districts of concern and the need for daily monitoring of facility-wise deaths, strengthening of hospital facilities, increasing the number of ICU, oxygen beds and efficient clinical management were focused upon.
For Karnataka, the highlighted districts of Koppal, Mysuru, Davangere and Bellari were advised to optimally utilise RT-PCR testing facilities, strengthen their door-to-door search for active cases and protect their healthcare workers, the ministry said.
In cumulative terms, five states account for more than 60 percent of the total active cases in the country, with Maharashtra contributing the maximum to the active caseload amounting to almost 25 percent, followed by Andhra Pradesh 12.06 percent, Karnataka 11.71 percent, Uttar Pradesh 6.92 percent and Tamil Nadu 6.10 percent, it said.
ICMR issues revised strategy for COVID-19 testing
In its ‘Advisory on Strategy for COVID-19 Testing in India’ (version VI), issued on Friday, the ICMR said the state governments can simplify COVID-19 testing modalities to facilitate testing on demand.
It also suggested that 100 percent of people living in containment zones should be tested by rapid antigen tests, particularly in cities where there has been a widespread transmission of the infection.
The ICMR also stressed that no emergency procedure (including deliveries) should be delayed for lack of tests, and pregnant women should not be referred for a lack of testing facility.
The research body also extended, elaborated and categorised the existing recommendations related to testing for COVID-19 into four parts — routine surveillance in containment zones and screening at points of entry, routine surveillance in non-containment areas, hospital settings and testing on demand — and choice of test (RT-PCR, TrueNat or CBNAAT and rapid antigen tests) in order of priority has been listed.
Railways to operate 80 more special trains from 12 Sep
Meanwhile, the Railway Board announced that 80 new special trains will be operational from 12 September, the reservations for which will begin from 10 September. “These will run in addition to the 230 trains already in operation,” said Railway Board Chairman VK Yadav.
The key factor in deciding to start the new trains was the fact that there were many stations from where the migrant workers are going back to their workplace, Yadav said.
“Many of these trains are running in the reverse direction of the Shramik Special trains. So, they (people) are leaving their homes and going to their workplace,” he added.
Yadav said the railways will monitor all the trains that are currently in operation to determine which trains have a long waiting list.
“Wherever there is a demand for a particular train, wherever the waiting list is long, we will run a clone train ahead of the actual train, so that passengers can travel,” he said.
“We are monitoring the occupancy of trains and will run more trains as per demand. Among the 230 trains, the occupancy of 12 is very less. We are running them, but will reduce the number of coaches,” he said, adding that the average occupancy in the trains is 80-85 percent.
Yadav said the Railways is coordinating with the state governments while deciding on the introduction of new trains.
To a question about running trains for exams, Yadav said, “We will run trains whenever there is a request from state governments for exams and other such purposes.”
The JEE exam in currently underway while the NEET is scheduled to be held on 13 September. The UGC has also directed universities to complete all final year exams before the end of September.
Maharashtra, Kerala see record jumps in daily cases
As the day progressed many states and Union Territories continued adding new cases to the coronavirus tallies, with Maharashtra, Kerala, Jammu and Kashmir and Tripura, among others, recording their biggest daily jumps in cases.
While Maharashtra’s case count sprinted to 8,83,862 with 20,481 fresh cases in a day, the toll climbed to 26,276, with 312 deaths. There are 2,20,661 active patients and the recovery rate in stands at 72.01 percent, said health minister Rajesh Tope.
As Mumbai registered an increase of 1,735 new cases, Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray said that it would be challenge for the administration to curb the contagion in the next two-three months.
“When the number of cases daily (in Mumbai) was between 1,000-1,100, we felt we are the peak of the virus spread. But in the last two days, the daily spike is between 1,700-1,900. Hence, the next three months are challenging and we have to tackle it effectively,” he said during a review meeting.
In Pune, which has become the new epicentre for the dreaded virus in the state, Union minister Prakash Javadekar held review meetings and instructed officials to conduct rapid antigen tests in containment zones. He also said that large-scale sero-surveys will be conducted to gauge the prevalence of the infection and ordered the strict implementation of fines for not wearing masks.
Fines of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 for not wearing a mask and spitting in public, respectively, to be implemented strictly: Union Minister Prakash Javadekar in Pune, Maharashtra https://t.co/frc8z6fM5Y
— ANI (@ANI) September 5, 2020
Tripura registered its highest single-day spike of 691 COVID-19 cases while the toll rose to 136 after seven more people succumbed to the infection. Andhra Pradesh reported 10,825 new patients and nearly 12,00 recoveries in a day.
Kerala on Saturday recorded 2,655 new COVID-19 cases, the highest ever reported in a single day, taking the infection count in the state to 84,758, while the toll mounted to 337 with the addition of 11 more fatalities. Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan said currently, 21,800 people are under treatment in the state for COVID-19, and 62,559 people have so far been cured of the disease.
The chief minister also maintained that Kerala was performing well on all COVID-19 parameters as decided by the WHO and ICMR despite the rising number of new active cases.
The chief minister said Kerala has 2,168 cases per million as against the national average of 2,731 and added that patients are discharged only after an antigen test, while some states discharge patients after 10 days if there are no symptoms.
Situation under control, says Kejriwal
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal too asserted that the coronavirus situation in the National Capital was under control, attributing the rise in cases to increased testing.
“The biggest reason for the increase in the number of positive cases in the last few days is that the Delhi government has doubled daily testing to 40,000 from around 18,000-20,000 a week ago. You can see this doubling of testing as a big attack on the coronavirus pandemic. We have mounted this big assault against coronavirus. I would ensure testing of everyone every day if it was possible for me,” the chief minister said at an online media briefing.
Delhi’s COVID-19 case count reached 1,88,193 with 2,973 fresh infections, and the toll mounted to 4,538 with 25 deaths, said a bulletin issued by the Delhi government.
Punjab CM tests negative
In Punjab, Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, who emerged from a week-long self-isolation after testing negative for the viral infection, urged the people of the state to get themselves tested for coronavirus at the earliest, saying any delay could prove fatal for them. The chief minister also announced distribution of free food packets to poor families who do not want to get themselves tested for coronavirus.
He said the distribution of free food packets would encourage poor families to go for early testing, which was imperative to check the spread of the pandemic and control the increasing fatality rate in Punjab.
With inputs from agencies