New Delhi: In the biggest spike in coronavirus infections on a single day, India on Friday recorded 1,752 fresh cases, taking the total to 23,452 even as the doubling rate of the disease improved to 10 days from the 7.5 reported earlier this week, said the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.
The death toll from the infection rose to 723, with 37 fatalities reported since Thursday evening, said an official, adding that about 20.52% of the infected people have recovered so far.
The previous highest single-day increase was on April 20, when 1,540 cases were reported.
The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) said 23,502 samples have been confirmed positive as of Friday morning.
A total of 37 deaths was reported since Thursday evening of which 14 were reported from Maharashtra, nine from Gujarat, three from Uttar Pradesh, two each from Andhra Pradesh, Delhi, Madhya Pradesh,Tamil Nadu and Telangana, and one from Karnataka.
At a press briefing, Director of National Centre for Disease Control SK Singh said 9.45 lakh suspected coronavirus cases have been under surveillance and their samples are being collected upon detection of symptoms of the infection.
Niti Ayog member VK Paul, chairman of an empowered group on COVID-19, said India would have recorded around a lakh cases of the infection by now if Prime Minister Narendra Modi had not taken the "timely step" step of enforcing a nationwide lockdown from March 25.
The officials said the outbreak of the pandemic has been "under control" in India largely due to a robust surveillance network along with implementation of the lockdown and other containment measures.
Out of the total 1,752 new cases, Maharashtra reported the highest number of 778 new infections followed by Gujarat with 217 cases and Madhya Pradesh with 157 cases, according to government data.
Paul said the lockdown has been effective in slowing down the rate of spread of the deadly infection and that the doubling rate now stands at 10 days. "No need to fear about hidden spike in cases, The disease is under control," he said.
On April 20, the ministry said the doubling rate has improved to 7.5 days as against the 3.4 days before the lockdown was imposed, with Paul saying the growth curve of the infection has begun to flatten.
Singh said surveillance has been the country's primary weapon in the fight against novel coronavirus.
"We started our surveillance mechanism even before the first case was reported in India. This played an important role in helping us contain the spread of the infection," he said, explaining how the government initiates contact tracing once a person is found infected in a community.
"Starting from stopping of international flights to stop transmission of infection from abroad, graded steps including lockdown were taken to halt internal chain of transmission of the infection," he said.
Singh said the surveillance network has been set up at district level as well so that measures like household survey, quarantine and isolations are carried out as part of the cluster containment plan.
"During initial period of lockdown, doubling time of cases decreased since people infected already were being detected, later it improved as lockdown put a brake on the spread of the infection," Singh said.
Joint Secretary in the Health Ministry Lav Agarwal said 15 districts, which earlier reported cases, have not reported any fresh infections in the last 28 days. A total of 80 districts from 23 states and union territories have not reported any new cases since the last 14 days.
(With inputs from PTI)