Union Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan on Monday chaired a meeting with the Group of Ministers (GOM) on the Covid-19 situation in the country, reiterating the importance of virus-appropriate behavior as states begin to open up.
Experts present at the meeting warned that the second wave of the virus was not over in the country, and emphasised the importance of wearing masks and social distancing.
Union Minister of Civil Aviation Hardeep Singh Puri, MoS Nityanand Rai, and Minister Ashwini Kumar Choubey, were present in the meeting along with NITI Aayog Member (Health) Dr Vinod K Paul.
Vardhan summarised the current Covid-19 situation in the country: “In the last 24 hours we have had only 46,148 cases making the active caseload decline significantly to 5,72,994 in the country. The recovery rate has been steadily increasing and stands at 96.80% today. 58,578 recoveries were registered in the last 24 hours."
“Today is the 46th day in succession where our daily recoveries outnumbered new cases. Our case fatality rate has been 1.30%, daily positivity rate at 2.94% and weekly positivity rate also stands at 2.94% which has been consistently below 5% for 21 days now,” he said.
However, despite numbers going down, the Ministers strongly reiterated the importance of COVID appropriate behavior. Higher level of continued awareness building was highlighted, and Dr V K Paul emphasised on the benefits of mask wearing and hand hygiene.
Dr. Balram Bhargava, Secretary (Health Research) and DG (ICMR) also cautioned that the second wave of COVID-19 has still not subsided as 80 districts in the country still have high positivity.
He advised against any laxity at this stage. He also explained that vaccines have been found effective against the alpha, beta, gamma and delta variants of COVID-19.
Vardhan said India had achieved another milestone in COVID-19 vaccination by overtaking USA in the total number of Covid Vaccine doses administered so far.
“USA started vaccinating against COVID from 14 December 2020 whereas the drive was launched in India on 16th Jan 2021," he said.
Talking about the Centre’s new vaccine policy, he said the Union Government is procuring and supplying 75% of the vaccines, free of cost, being produced by the vaccine manufacturers in the country to the states and UTs.
“Till today morning (8am), we have administered 32,36,63,297 vaccine doses to our countrymen in various categories. These include 1,01,98,257 Healthcare Workers who have taken the 1st dose and 72,07,617 HCWs who have taken the 2nd dose, 1,74,42,767 Frontline Workers (1st dose), 93,99,319 FLWs (2nd dose), and 8,46,51,696 for 18-44 years of age group (1st dose) and 19,01,190 for 2nd dose," he said.
Black Fungus Cases
The Health Minister apprised GOM members on the trajectory of Mucormycosis infections that have occurred in this phase of COVID-19. “Total of 40,845 cases has been reported. Fatality from the infections stands at 3,129. Of the total numbers, 34,940 patients had COVID (85.5%), 26,187 (about 64.11%) were co-morbid for diabetes while 21,523 (52.69%) of those infected were on steroids. 13,083 patients were in the age group 18-45 (32%), 17,464 were in the age group 45-60 (42%) while 10,082 (24%) patients were 60+ years of age," he said.
Active Cases Concentrated in Some States
Dr. Sujeet K Singh, Director, NCDC, presented a report on the trajectory of COVID in the States and UTs.
Active cases continue to be concentrated mainly in Maharashtra, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal and Odisha which are reporting growth rate more than the national COVID Growth Rate, he said.
While 19 states are reporting fatality figures in single digit (less than 10), four states of Kerala, Karnataka, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu are reporting more than hundred deaths daily, he added.