The nationwide tally of confirmed COVID-19 cases crossed 62,700 on Saturday and the death toll topped the 2,000-mark after hundreds more tested positive for the infection in several states, while worries mounted globally about re-emergence of the outbreak after reopening of locked down economies.
Adding to the concerns, the fresh cases included at least two foreign returnees who had reached Kerala on May 7 in two separate first-day flights -- one from Dubai and another from Abu Dhabi -- under a massive ongoing evacuation plan of the central government to bring back stranded Indians abroad.
While large numbers of cases continued to be detected in Maharashtra, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu and Delhi, experts have warned the numbers may rise in the coming days due to the ongoing movement of lakhs of migrant workers being facilitated by trains and buses to help them reach their native places and because of a large number of Indians stranded abroad, along with expatriates, being brought back in special flights.
Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said the two new cases in his state is a warning for all states to be on an alert to strengthen their "mitigation efforts and preventive measures."
Many more similar flights from abroad are reaching Kerala and several other states over the next few days under what is being called the 'Vande Bharat' mission.
In its daily update, the Union Health Ministry said the death toll has risen to 1,981 and the number of cases to 59,662, registering an increase of 95 deaths and 3,320 cases in 24 hours till Saturday morning.
The number of active cases stood at 39,834, while 17,846 people have recovered and one patient has migrated, it said.
However, a PTI tally of numbers reported by different states and Union Territories, as of 10.45 pm on Saturday, showed at least 62,761 confirmed cases across the country, 19,000 recoveries and 2,028 deaths. This showed an increase of over 6,000 confirmed cases since Friday morning.
Fresh cases were also reported on Saturday from Uttar Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh, Rajasthan, Karnataka, Punjab, Bihar and Assam.
The health ministry said it has decided to deploy central teams in 10 states that have witnessed or are witnessing high COVID-19 cases to assist their health departments to facilitate management of the outbreak.
Earlier, 20 central teams of public health experts were earlier sent to highly-affected districts on May 3, while a high-level team was recently deputed in Mumbai to support Maharashtra's efforts in COVID-19 response and management.
Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan said the testing capacity for COVID-19 has been ramped up to around 95,000 tests per day and a total of over 15 lakh tests have been conducted so far across hundreds of government and private labs.
Globally, nearly 40 lakh people have tested positive for the deadly virus since its emergence in China last December, while approximately 2.75 lakh people have lost their lives. However, nearly 13 lakh people have recovered too, including nearly 2 lakh in the US and over 1.4 lakh in Germany.
Tamil Nadu reported four more deaths during the day, taking its death toll to 44, while 526 more people tested positive for the virus to take its tally to over 6,500.
In Maharashtra, 1,165 new cases were reported to take its tally to 20,228, while the death toll rose to 779 after 48 more patients succumbed. Mumbai alone reported 27 more deaths, taking its count of fatalities to 489, while the count of confirmed cases in the country's financial capital has risen to 12,864.
Gujarat reported 394 new cases, taking its tally to 7,797, while 23 more patients died to take the death toll to 472. Ahmedabad alone reported 280 new cases and 20 more deaths, taking its own case count to 5,540 and fatalities to 363.
In Delhi, 224 new cases were recorded to take its tally to 6,542.