India’s coronavirus case count soared to 5,08,953 on Saturday with the highest single-day surge of 18,552 cases, while the death toll climbed to 15,685 with 384 fatalities, according to Union health ministry data.
On the backdrop of increase in infections, the Karnataka government announced a range of measures including limiting working days of government offices to five days and revising night curfew timings.
According to news agency PTI, it took 110 days for coronavirus infection in the country to reach one lakh while it took just 39 days more to go past the five lakh-mark on 27 June. Saturday was the fourth consecutive day when coronavirus infection increased by more than 15,000 while there has been a surge of 3,18,418 infections from 1 till 27 June.
Of the 384 fatalities reported till Saturday 8 am, 175 were in Maharashtra, 63 in Delhi, 46 in Tamil Nadu, 19 in Uttar Pradesh, 18 in Gujarat, 13 in Haryana, 12 in Andhra Pradesh, 10 each in West Bengal and Karnataka. of the remaining, seven deaths were reported in Telangana, four in Madhya Pradesh, two in Punjab, one each in Jammu and Kashmir, Chhattisgarh, Bihar, Rajasthan and Uttarakhand.
Of the total 15,685 deaths reported so far, Maharashtra tops the count with 7,106 deaths, followed by Delhi with 2,492 deaths, Gujarat with 1,771, Tamil Nadu with 957, Uttar Pradesh with 630, West Bengal with 616, Madhya Pradesh with 546, Rajasthan with 380 and Telangana with 237 deaths.
According to the health ministry, more than 70 percent deaths took place due to comorbidities.
Maharashtra has also reported the highest number of cases at 1,52,765 followed by Delhi at 77,240, Tamil Nadu at 74,622, Gujarat at 30,095, Uttar Pradesh at 20,943, Rajasthan at 16,660 and West Bengal at 16,190, the ministry data stated.
The number of COVID-19 cases has gone up to 12,884 in Haryana, 12,798 in Madhya Pradesh, 12,349 in Telangana, 11,489 in Andhra Pradesh and 11,005 in Karnataka, the data showed.
“Our figures are being reconciled with the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR),” the ministry said, adding that 8,023 cases are being reassigned to states.
Recoveries near 3 lakh
According to the morning update issued by the health ministry, the number of active cases stands at 1,97,387 while 2,95,880 people have recovered and one patient has migrated.
Thus the recovery rate stands at 58.13, the health ministry said.
Among the states, Maharashtra has the highest number of recoveries (73,214), followed by Gujarat (21,476) and Delhi (18,574), it stated.
Noting that India’s recovery rate is rising, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said India is much better placed than many other nations due to lockdown and many initiatives taken by the government as well as a people-driven fight. However, he cautioned people against letting their guard down.
“In fact, we have to be even more careful now. Wearing masks, following social distancing, avoiding crowded places remain important,” he said addressing a public event in Pathanamthitta in Kerala via video conference.
’87 percent deaths from eight states’
In another statement released in the evening, the health ministry said that a Group of Ministers (GoM) on COVID-19 was informed that eight states — Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Delhi, Telangana, Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh and West Bengal — contributed to 85.5 percent of the active COVID-19 caseload and 87 percent of the total deaths due to the disease in India.
The health ministry said it also informed the GOM during its 17th meeting that the COVID-related health infrastructure has been strengthened with the availability of 1,039 dedicated COVID-19 Hospitals with 1,76,275 isolation beds, 22,940 ICU beds and 77,268 oxygen-supported beds, the ministry said.
Also, 2,398 dedicated COVID-19 health centres with 1,39,483 isolation beds, 11,539 ICU beds and 51,321 oxygen-supported beds have been operationalised.
ICMR Director General Balram Bhargav told the GoM that India now has 1,026 diagnostic labs dedicated to COVID-19. This includes 741 in the government sector and 285 private labs.
According to the ICMR, till 26 June, a cumulative total of 79,96,707 samples have been tested with 2,20,479 samples being tested on Friday, the highest in a day since the contagion began to spread in India.
The GoM was also told that 15 central teams consisting of public health experts, epidemiologists and a senior joint secretary-level officer have been deployed to provide support to the states. Another central team is currently visiting Gujarat, Maharashtra and Telangana to boost the ongoing efforts for managing COVID-19, it said.
Meanwhile, a Central team consisting of Joint Secretary in the Union Health Ministry Lav Agarwal, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Housing and Civil Affairs Kunal Kumar and others, visited Maharashtra’s Thane district which has reported 27,479 cases till Friday.
While Agarwal said efforts should be focused on reducing the mortality rate and suggested testing capacity be increased in the district, Pradip Vyas, principal secretary (health) in the Maharashtra government said the need of the hour was large-scale contact tracing, increasing the number of tests and setting up of more quarantine facilities.
Karnataka announces Sunday curfew from 5 July
Amid a rise in coronavirus infections, the Karnataka government announced a slew of decisions, including total lockdown on Sundays starting 5 July and revision in night curfew timings from 9 pm to 5am to 8 pm to 5 am with effect from 29 June.
The decisions were taken at a meeting chaired by Karnataka chief minister BS Yediyurappa with ministers and officials amid growing outcry by the Opposition to impose stringent lockdown measures to contain COVID-19 cases in the state.
“Lockdown would be imposed every Sunday, with effect from 5 July, 2020 until further orders. No activities shall be permitted on that day except essential services and supplies. All government offices shall remain closed on all Saturdays, along with second and fourth Saturdays with effect from 10 July,” said an official statement.
According to a bulletin released by the Karnataka health department, confirmed cases in the state surged to 11,923 as 918 more persons tested positive for the novel coronavirus while 11 succumbed to the diseases, taking the toll to 191. Four persons have so far died due to non-COVID-19 causes, the bulletin added.
States report new cases
New cases and fatalities were also reported in other states and UTs including Maharashtra, Gujarat and Delhi.
Coronavirus cases in Maharashtra rose to 1,59,133 with a record 5,318 new patients confirmed positive on Saturday. The toll due to the virus reached 7,273 with 167 fatalities coming to light on Saturday. Mumbai recorded 1,460 fresh COVID-19 cases and 41 deaths, taking the total number of infections in the metropolis to 73,747 and toll to 4,282, reported ANI quoting the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation.
Gujarat too reported its highest single-day spike with 615 patients testing positive for the virus, taking the overall caseload to 30,773, the state health department said.
With the death of 18 patients on Saturday, the number of fatalities has gone up to 1,790. But the number of the recovered cases climbed to 22,417 after discharge of 379 patients in the day and the state now has 6,566, it said.
Former Gujarat chief minister Shankersinh Vaghela too tested positive for the novel coronavirus, reported News18. He is displaying mild symptoms and is currently quarantined at home.
Delhi on Saturday registered 2,948 new coronavirus cases and 66 deaths, taking the total number of cases to 80,188 and toll to 2,558. On Saturday, a serological survey to undertake a comprehensive analysis of the spread of COVID-19 in the National Capital commenced in some parts of the city.
“The serological survey has started from Saturday and will cover 20,000 people. The survey is being conducted door to door and will reveal the extent of coronavirus spread in Delhi,” Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said in an online briefing.
Tamil Nadu reported 3,713 fresh COVID-19 infections and 68 deaths, taking the total number of cases to 78,335 and toll to 1,025 while Kerala recorded 195 new cases and 102 recoveries.
In the meantime, West Bengal recorded 521 new cases and 13 deaths, taking the total number of cases in the state to 16,711 and death toll to 629, reported ANI quoting the state health department.
Dexamethasone included in revised treatment protocols
In another development, the health ministry allowed the use of steroid drug dexamethasone for the treatment of COVID-19 patients who are moderately to severely ill. In its revised ‘Clinical Management Protocols for COVID-19’, the ministry said that dexamethasone can be used as an alternative choice to methylprednisolone for managing moderate to severe cases. The change has been made after considering the latest available evidence and expert consultation, it added.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), the corticosteroid dexamethasone was tested in hospitalised patients with COVID-19 in the United Kingdom’s national clinical trial ‘RECOVERY’ and was found to have benefits for critically-ill patients.
According to preliminary findings shared with the WHO, for patients on ventilators, the treatment was shown to reduce mortality by about one-third, and for patients requiring only oxygen, mortality was cut by about one-fifth.
Globally, the viral infection has now affected as many as 96,52,307 while 4,91,115 people have died due to the disease, according to that WHO COVID-19 database.
With inputs from agencies