NEW DELHI: India’s Covid-19 situation is on a downward spiral as the country continues to witness an unprecedented surge in new infections even as the states are tightening restrictions to check the spread of the virus.
Here’s a snapshot of the pandemic situation in India …
Another day, another new peak
India reported a fresh high of 2,61,500 new coronavirus cases and 1,501 deaths on Sunday, while active cases surpassed the 18-lakh mark, the Union health ministry data showed.
Sunday’s figure was a sharp rise of 11.5% over the previous day’s tally of 2.34 lakh.
In a bit of cheerful news amid the gloom, the death rate continues to be much lower than what was witnessed during the peak of the first wave in September, with the overall case fatality rate dropping to 1.2%.
However, with active cases surging to over 18 lakh — having risen by a record 1.21 lakh on Saturday alone — fatalities are likely to rise in the coming days.
With infections on an upward trajectory, several states reported their highest-ever single day rise on Sunday.
Maharashtra reported 68,631 new cases in a highest single-day record.
Delhi reported over 25,500 cases for the first time while UP added a record 30,000-plus cases to its tally.
Karnataka (19,067), Rajasthan (10,514), Tamil Nadu (10,723), Gujarat (10,340), Bihar (8,690) and West Bengal (8,419) also registered their highest-ever numbers today.
According to the health ministry, ten states had reported 78.56 per cent of the new infections on Saturday.
Positivity rate doubles
The daily coronavirus positivity rate in India in the last 12 days has doubled to 16.69 per cent, while the weekly positivity rate has increased to 13.54 per cent in the past one month, the health ministry said on Sunday.
“The daily positivity rate in the last 12 days has doubled from 8% to 16.69%,” the ministry said in a statement. “The national weekly positivity rate has increased from 3.05% to 13.54% in the last one month.”
Among these states, Chhattisgarh has witnessed the steepest surge in positivity rate from just 2.38% to over 30% in a month.
Delhi’s positivity rate has also triggered concern over the last few days. The national capital on Sunday recorded a positivity rate of over 30%, which means that every 1 in 3 people getting tested for the infection was found to be positive.
Tamil Nadu, Bihar tighten curbs
With infections on the rise, Tamil Nadu and Bihar joined several other states in imposing a strict night curfew to bring the situation under control.
A curfew will remain in force in Bihar from 9 pm to 5 am.
Schools, colleges, gyms, malls, religious places and shopping complexes will remain shut till May 15, chief minister Nitish Kumar said.
Similarly, the Tamil Nadu government has decided to impose a night curfew from 10pm to 4am as well as a complete lockdown on Sundays.
During the night curfew, private and public transport including those by autorickshaws and taxis shall not be allowed. Visit to beaches, zoos and all tourist destinations like Nilgiris and Kodaikanal is barred.
Manmohan writes to PM Modi
Former prime minister Manmohan Singh on Sunday wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the Covid-19 crisis, stressing that ramping up vaccination was the key to battling the pandemic.
He said one must not look at absolute numbers but the total percentage of population vaccinated.
“The key to our fight against Covid-19 must be ramping up the vaccination effort. We must resist the temptation to look at the absolute numbers being vaccinated, and focus instead on the percentage of the population vaccinated,” he said in his letter.
“There are many things we must do to fight the epidemic but a big part of this effort must be ramping up the vaccination programme,” he said while making several suggestions.
He also suggested invoking of compulsory licensing provisions for drug manufacturers and giving some flexibility to states to define categories of frontline workers who can be vaccinated even if they are below 45 years.
Railways steps up efforts to help fight Covid
Meanwhile, the Indian railways on Sunday announced a series of measures to help the country combat the severe second wave of infections.
The railway ministry said ‘Oxygen Express’ trains will be made operational over the next few days to transport liquid medical oxygen and oxygen cylinders across the country.
Railways getting ready to transport Liquid Medical Oxygen (LMO) and oxygen cylinders across key corridors. (ANI)
Amid spiralling coronavirus cases in the country, the demand for medical oxygen in the country has gone through the roof.
Empty tankers will begin their journey from Kalamboli and Boisar railway stations in and near Mumbai on Monday to load liquid medical oxygen from Vizag, Jamshedpur, Rourkela and Bokaro, officials said.
Separately, the Railways has also converted 4,002 train coaches as a Covid-19 care-cum-isolation facility to provide assistance to state governments.
Oxygen supply for industrial use banned
Meanwhile, the ministry of home affairs (MHA) has ordered states to divert oxygen supply from industries so that it can be used in treatment of Covid patients.
“Oxygen supply for industrial use prohibited (barring nine specified industries). It will now be diverted for augmenting supply of medical oxygen in states with high Covid caseload,” the ministry said in an order.
Separately, Union minister Piyush Goyal said that Maharashtra will get the biggest share of oxygen at 1,500 metric tonnes. Uttar Pradesh and Delhi will get 800 and 300 metric tonnes of oxygen respectively, he added.
‘Second wave could spark greater uncertainty’
The country needs to prepare for “greater uncertainty” in terms of consumer as well as investor sentiments due to the second wave of coronavirus infections, Niti Aayog Vice Chairman Rajiv Kumar said on Sunday.
While acknowledging that the present situation has become far more difficult than it was in the past due to rising coronavirus infections, Kumar remained hopeful that the country’s economy will grow 11 per cent in the current fiscal ending March 31, 2022.
According to Kumar, India was on the verge of defeating Covid-19 completely but some new strains from the UK and other countries have made the situation far more difficult this time around.
Vaccinations cross 12-crore mark
Even as the nation grapples with the rapid surge in infections, the vaccination drive is also gradually picking up pace.
The cumulative number of vaccine doses administered in the country has crossed the 12 crore mark on Sunday as part of the world’s largest vaccination drive.
The Union health ministry said that India took only 92 days to reach the milestone, becoming the fastest country to do so. It is followed by the US which took 97 days and China (108 days).
On Day 92 of the vaccination drive (April 17), 26,84,956 vaccine doses were given.
(With inputs from PTI)