The coronavirus situation across the country has been getting grim over the past one month, with few states like Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh and Punjab being the hotspots of fresh cases and cause of constant worry for the government. On Saturday, India clocked a new high over over 1.52 lakh cases, while it breached the 11 lakh-mark of active cases for the first time ever since the pandemic clutched the country in March last year. India’s COVID-19 tally of cases climbed to 1,33,58,805, and the death toll increased to 1,69,275 with 839 daily new fatalities, the highest since October 18, 2020, the data updated by Health Ministry on Sunday morning showed.
Five states — Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh, Karnataka, Uttar Pradesh and Kerala — cumulatively account for 70.82 percent of India’s active COVID-19 cases, while Maharashtra alone accounts for 48.57 percent, the Union Health Ministry said.
The health departments of several states are racing against time to make facilities, like beds and oxygen supplies, available for covid care. A massive vaccination push, dubbed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi as the beginning of another major war against coronavirus, was launched on Sunday in a bid to abate the surge, while vaccine shortage has also been reported from several parts of the country. While the cumulative number of COVID-19 vaccine doses administered in the country has crossed 10 crore after 85 days, the ‘Tika Utsav’ or a special ‘vaccination festival’ was started till April 14. “Anyone eligible for the vaccine should get the jab, and for this the society and administration have to make full efforts," Prime Minister Modi said pitching for “zero vaccine waste" and urging the people to follow COVID-appropriate behaviour.
The Centre announced a ban on export of Remdesivir, used in coronavirus treatment and its Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients, and asked all domestic manufacturers to display on their website details of their stockists and distributors. There were some reports of shortage of drugs from a few states.
The second wave of coronavirus is turning out to be more dangerous as the surge in cases has been exponential. The positivity rate has gone in double digits in Maharashtra, Delhi, Chhattisgarh, Punjab, etc. In view of the unfolding crisis, the centre had constituted 50 high-level multi-disciplinary public health teams and deployed them to 50 districts across Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh and Punjab. The teams were rushed to 30 districts of Maharashtra, 11 districts of Chhattisgarh and nine districts of Punjab to assist the state health department and local authorities in COVID-19 surveillance, control and containment measures. From night curfews to lockdown-like restrictions, state governments have been on tenterhooks in view of the health crisis.
Maharashtra has been the worst-hit state and has been registering highest number of cases since the pandemic broke out. It continues to top the charts and registered 55,411 cases on Sunday. While restrictions like night curfews have been imposed in major cities and towns, Maharashtra stepped up its mitigation efforts with weekend lockdowns and other extensive guidelines to control the spiralling situation last week. The western state is now mulling a complete lockdown as the Uddhav-led government fears another spurt in cases. It is deliberating upon the logistics of a lockdown, announcement on which will be out in a couple of days. As of now, private offices have been asked to adhere to Work from Home rule, while government offices are operating on 50% staff strength. Public transport has been asked to operate as per its seating capacity, while schools have been shut too.
Here, the central teams in reported lack of Covid-appropriate behavior, oxygen and ventilator shortage, and sub-optimal efforts at surveillance and contract tracing in certain areas like Satara, Sangli and Aurangabad.
Chhattisgarh has seen a sudden spike in coronavirus cases, with steep rise being witnessed since early March. On Saturday, the state registered 14,098 cases, while active cases surged to 85,860. In view of the alarming situation, the state government ordered complete lockdown in eight districts. While complete curfew was imposed in Rajnandgaon, Bemetra and Balod districts from Saturday evening, lockdown is already in effect in Raipur and neighbouring Durg district. Jashpur, Koriya and Balodabazar districts were placed under lockdown from today. The state government has directed that 80 percent of the total oxygen produced will be supplied for medical purposes to hospitals.
The central team from Raipur, Jashpur has reported lack of perimeter control in containment zones. It also reported lack/shortage of any RT-PCR testing facility in Korba, Durg, Balod Districts, leading to increased testing turnaround time. Similarly, limited RT-PCR testing capacity was also reported from Balod. State may facilitate RT-PCR testing by exploring the use of mobile testing labs, the release said.
Punjab, with its upward trend in coronavirus cases, has been another turbulent state. On Saturday, it reported 3,239 cases, while the active cases have gone over 28,000. The upward trend has seen steep spike since March this year, while vaccine shortage flagged by the state government has been added to the whammy. To check the spread of the virus, Punjab government has imposed a state-wide night curfew from 9 pm to 5 am. The central team has flagged the need to enhance focus on contact tracing in Patiala and Ludhiana. It also reported low rates of testing from Patiala, and no RT-PCR testing laboratory in Rupnagar.
The northern state on Saturday registered a high of 12,748 cases and the number of active cases jumped to 58,801. Uttar Pradesh has now imposed night curfews in districts that have seen an alarming rise in the number of cases. The schools have also been shut till April 30. In a meeting chaired by chief minister Yogi Adityanath, the government focused on tracing and testing with at least 1 lakh RT-PCR tests daily. Districts reporting more tha 500 cases will be placed under night curfew. The government has ordered that no more than five people should be allowed to enter religious places. Chief minister Adityanath said the traders in the markets should maintain social distancing, while traffic in the containment zone should be restricted. Meanwhile, the containment zones in the state will be made within a radius of 25 meters from an infected patient and 50 meters in case of more than one infected patient and PPE kits must be used in these zones.
National capital’s brief breather of low number of coronavirus cases after tumultuous situation around Diwali last year came to an end in March with steep rise in number of cases. On Saturday, Delhi reported a whopping 7,897 number of cases, while the active cases have gone up to 28,773. Authorities have started reserving more COVID hospitals and taking steps to address any shortage of medical supplies, besides enhancing curbs on the movement of people. While chief minister Arvind Kejriwal ruled out lockdown option, night curfew was imposed from April 6. In fresh curbs, all swimming pools, except those being used for training of sportspersons for participation in national and international events, will be closed. Funerals will be allowed to be attended by 20 persons only while gatherings for marriages will have an upper limit of 50 persons.
Restaurants and bars are allowed up to 50% of their seating capacity, while the Delhi Metro will run at 50 per cent of coach capacity. The DTC and Cluster buses too will run at half their capacity. Stadiums can organise sports events but spectators will not be allowed. Cinemas, theaters, multiplexes will be permitted to open with up to 50 per cent of their seating capacity.
On Sunday, Gujarat reported over 5,400 COVID-19 cases and 54 deaths, keeping up with its steep upward trend since March this year. All colleges and schools have been shut in view of the surge. The Gujarat government has already imposed restrictions on people’s movement during the night in 20 cities of the state, including Surat.
Tamil Nadu on Sunday clocked over 6,000 coronavirus infections on a single day, after a gap of nearly seven months, pushing the total caseload to 9.33 lakh. The toll due to COVID-19 rose to 12,908 with 22 more fatalities, the health department said on Sunday. According to a medical bulletin, recoveries mounted to 8,78,571 today with 2,314 patients being discharged, leaving 41,955 active infections. Chennai accounted for most of the new infections with
2,124 cases, taking the aggregate to 2,65,126.
Fresh curbs kicked in from Sunday in Tamil Nadu. Beaches in Chennai have been made out of bounds for visitors over weekends and government holidays. The government has said a call on night curfews will be taken after monitoring the situation for few days.
The first state in India to report coronavirus case in January 2020 has been a rollercoster of Covid-19 and has been through phases of ups and downs. The chief minister of the state has also been infected and is under treatment. On Sunday, it reported 6986 cases of coronavirus. While the state has been lauded for its containment and mitigation efforts, the cases have been on a constant rise. The government has imposed restrictions in containment zones across the state till April 30. Efforts to minimise rush in public places and tourist spots are also on.
Rajasthan on Sunday recorded 5105 coronavirus cases, taking the tally in the state to 3,63,793. Of the fresh cases, the highest number was reported from Udaipur (864) while 666 cases were registered in Jodhpur and 648 in Jaipur, according to the government. The Ashok Gehlot government in Rajasthan has imposed night curfew in several cities, including Ajmer, Alwar, Bhilwara, Chittorgarh, Dungarpur, Jaipur, Jodhpur, Kota and Abu Road, from 8pm to 6am. Jaipur has been the worst-impacted city and the government is taking steps to control the cases. Five areas have now been declared as micro containment zones.
On Sunday, Karnataka reported over 10,000 new COVID-19 cases and 40 related fatalities, taking the total number of infections to 10.65 lakh and the toll to 12,889. Number of active cases at present is 31,986 in the state. The health ministry has said that the cases are likely to peak in the first week of May. The government is now deliberating upon various options to minimise the damage in the ongoing covid-19 wave. People have been advised to avoid crowded places. There hasn’t been any directive in complete lockdown, but night curfew has been imposed in Bengaluru and other seven districts, including Mangalore from April 10 to 20 and may be extended in other parts given how the situation unfolds over the next few days.