Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday chaired a high-level meeting to review Covid-19 situation in India and asked the officials to ensure rapid upgradation of health infrastructure. The PM was also briefed on the efforts being made to ramp up the availability and supply of oxygen.
The Delhi High Court, meanwhile, said the Arvind Kejriwal-led Delhi government’s entire system has failed due to the alleged black marketing of oxygen cylinders and crucial medicines for treating Covid-19 patients. “Set your house in order. If you cannot manage it, we will ask the central government to takeover,” the court told the Delhi government.
Early on Tuesday, the country received 95 oxygen concentrators and 100 ventilators from the United Kingdom as the country continues to fight against depleting resources amid the second wave of the novel coronavirus.
The Supreme Court has said its suo motu proceeding on devising a national policy for Covid-19 management is not meant to supplant cases being heard by the high courts, but added that the top court cannot be a “mute spectator” at the time of national crisis. In another order, the top court allowed Vedanta to operate its closed oxygen plant at Tuticorin in Tamil Nadu, saying the order has been passed in view of “national need” for oxygen.
India, in the last 24 hours, recorded 3,23,144 fresh Covid-19 cases, taking the cumulative tally to 1,76,36,307. Of these, 28,82,204 are active cases, while 2,771 deaths were also reported on Monday. While Maharashtra reported 48,700 fresh cases, Uttar Pradesh’s daily case count stood at 33,351.
India’s Covid tally had crossed the 20,00,000- mark on August 7, 30,00,000 on August 23, 40,00,000 on September 5 and 50,00,000 on September 16. It went past 60,00,000 on September 28, 70,00,000 on October 11, crossed 80,00,000 on October 29, 90,00,000 on November 20 and surpassed the 10 million mark on December 19. India crossed the grim milestone of 15 million on April 19.
Registering a steady increase, the active cases have increased to 28,13,658 comprising 16.25% of the total infections, while the national Covid-19 recovery rate has further dropped to 82.62%. The number of people who have recuperated from the disease surged to 1,43,04,382. The case fatality rate has further dropped to 1.13%, the data stated.
The new fatalities include 832 from Maharashtra, 350 from Delhi, 206 from Uttar Pradesh, 199 from Chhattisgarh, 157 from Gujarat, 143 from Karnataka, and 103 from Jharkhand. A total of 1,95,123 deaths have been reported so far in the country including 64,760 from Maharashtra, 14,426 from Karnataka, 14,248 from Delhi, 13,557 from Tamil Nadu, 11,165 from Uttar Pradesh, 10,941 from West Bengal, 8,432 from Punjab and 7,685 from Andhra Pradesh. Many of the Covid patients died in Maharashtra, Gujarat, Delhi, Punjab and other states for want of oxygen in hospitals. There is also shortage of hospital beds and essential medicines in many states. So many patients succumb without getting medical aid. Now that other countries have have realised the grave situation in India and are coming out with necessary materials and even financial aid to fight the pandemic. India alone won't be tackle this without assistance from other countries.
The health ministry stressed that more than 70% of the deaths occurred due to comorbidities. “Our figures are being reconciled with the Indian Council of Medical Research,” the ministry said on its website, adding that statewise distribution of figures is subject to further verification and reconciliation. If cases continue to grow at this rate then India will add about a million cases in three days- a feat that is unparalleled so far. No country in the world has seen such a level of new cases and evidently, the healthcare system of no other country has ever been so overwhelmed by Covid. The impact of this level of cases– more than a 100,000 new cases for the 17th consecutive day is evident on the healthcare system and there is a steady increase in daily fatality. For the 10th consecutive day, India has witnessed over a thousand daily deaths of which the last three days saw over 2,000 daily deaths. In the past 10 days over 15,000 people have died because of Covid or related complications.
Among states, Maharashtra continues to lead with 67,013 new cases. While there is no respite for Maharashtra other states are also going through a steady increase in cases. Uttar Pradesh (34,379), Kerala (26,995), Delhi (26,169), and Karnataka (25,795) are the other four states that reported over 25,000 daily cases.
Chattisgarh reported 16,750 new cases while cases reported from Rajasthan, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, Madhya Pradesh, West Bengal, Bihar and Andhra Pradesh were between 10,000-15,000. Similarly cases reported from Haryana, Jharkhand, Odisha, Telangana and Punjab were between 5,000 to 10,000. Even smaller states like Uttarakhand, J&K, Himachal Pradesh and Goa have also reported between 1,000- 5000 cases. With 1931 new cases, Assam is the only large state on this list.
Positivity rate 15% in 146 dists, 5-15% in 274 others
The rapid rise of Covid-19 cases has seen 146 districts reporting more than 15% positivity, whereas 274 districts have a positivity rate between 5% and 15%, according to the health ministry. The Centre expressed concern over the surge, particularly in the 146 districts with high positivity rate, and said the health system was facing strain because of the steep increase in new cases. Though 308 districts have a positivity rate less than 5%, the national case positivity rate is currently 17.9%.
While the age profile of cases remains largely the same as during the first wave, data shows that the share of deaths due to Covid-19 has increased among the elderly. During the first wave of the disease, 19.9% of deaths was recorded among people aged between 70 and 80 while 7.8% was among those aged above 80. In the second wave, deaths in the 70-80 group increased to 22.1% and in those above 80 years to 9.8%.
Besides, there is also a marginal increase in deaths in the 30-40 years group. During the first wave, 5.2% of people died in this age bracket, whereas 5.3% died in the second wave.
The Centre said all energies were focused on tackling the situation and come out of the pandemic when asked if the government had “missed” the second wave by taking its eye off the ball. “We are in the midst of the second wave and there is a surge. We cannot say when numbers will come down,” Indian Council of Medical Research director Balram Bhargava said.