Concerned over rapid rise of new COVID-19 cases in India: Harvard Global Health Institute Director
New Delhi, June 22: India crossed another grim milestone of 4 lakh novel coronavirus cases on Sunday recording the addition of one more lakh in just eight days including the latest biggest single-day spike of 15,413 cases amid renewed concerns over the rapid rise in new infections in the country.
The spike in cases has been marked by new peaks in daily numbers (over 12,500) for four consecutive days to take the country's tally to 4,10,461 while the death toll rose to 13,254 with 306 new fatalities, according to the Union Health Ministry data.
However, there has been a steady improvement in the recovery rate with around 55.48 per cent of the Covid-10 patients being declared virus-free. The number of recoveries stood at 2,27,755 while there were 1,69,451 active cases, the data showed. One patient has migrated.
India took 64 days to cross the 1-lakh mark from 100 Covid-19 cases, another fortnight to reach two lakh cases and then in another ten days it went past the 3-lakh mark. Also, it took 18 days for the cases to double to the current tally from 2,07,615 that was registered on June 3.
The country witnessed a surge of 2,19,926 coronavirus infections from June 1 till 21 with Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Delhi, Gujarat and Uttar Pradesh being the top five states that accounted for the sharp rise in Covid-19 cases, an analysis of the official data showed.
Tamil Nadu,(2,532), Kerala(133) and Odisha (304) were among the states which reported a record single-day spike of fresh cases on Sunday. The first case in India was recorded in Kerala on January 30.
Harvard Global Health Institute Director Dr Ashish Jha has expressed concern over how quickly the new coronavirus cases are rising in India, and said when populous states like Bihar and Uttar Pradesh get hit hard, the country could see a "large increase" in virus infections and deaths.
"Right now I'm concerned by how quickly the number of new cases are rising. India's density may be contributing to this and we've seen high rates of spread in some of the larger metro areas like Mumbai, Delhi and also Chennai," Jha told PTI in New York in an email interview.
"But what concerns me most is major population areas --such as in Bihar and UP-- that have not yet gotten hit very hard. When they do get hit we will likely see a large increase in the number of cases and deaths, which we need to prepare for."
"Given the lag between infection, onset of symptoms and death, I expect numbers to continue to rise in the coming weeks and months," he said, as he stressed that the "trajectory" of cases is "very concerning" in India.
The renowned health expert noted that the number of cases in India may be higher than what the data suggests because while testing has been improving, it has not been rolled out in a way that will capture all low-symptomatic patients.
According to the health ministry, the number of samples being tested every day continues to grow. In the last 24 hours, 1,90,730 samples were tested, while the total number analysed so far is 68,07,226, it said in a statement.
Home Minister Amit Shah held a meeting with Delhi Lt Governor Anil Baijal, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and other senior officials, a day after the national capital saw a record single-day spike of 3,630 coronavirus cases. Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan was also present.
Delhi, which recorded 3,000 cases on Sunday to take the total to nearly 60,000, inched closer to another hotspot Mumbai which accounted for 65,265 infections.
As several Indian companies work on testing of potential drug candidates on Covid-19 patients, drug firm Hetero said it has received approval from regulator DCGI to launch investigational antiviral drug Remdesivir for the treatment of the infection.
Domestic pharma firm Glenmark Pharmaceuticals had on Saturday launched antiviral drug Favipiravir, under the brand name FabiFlu, for the treatment of patients with mild to moderate Covid-19 at a price of about Rs 103 per tablet.
Hetero's generic version of Remdesivir will be marketed under the brand name 'Covifor' in India.
The drug will be available in 100 mg vial (injectable) which has to be administered intravenously in a hospital setting under the supervision of a healthcare practitioner, it said.
Asked about the price of the drug, Hetero Group of Companies MD Vamsi Krishna Bandi told PTI it will be in the range of Rs 5,000-6,000 per dose.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi made a reference to Covid-19 when he said the world is feeling the need for yoga more than ever due to the pandemic and that the ancient Indian practice is helping a large number of patients across the globe in defeating the disease.
The coronavirus specifically attacks the respiratory system and 'pranayama' or breathing exercise helps in strengthening the respiratory system the most, Modi said in his message on the sixth International Day of Yoga.
"If our immunity is strong, it is of great help in defeating this disease. For boosting immunity, there are several methods in yoga, various 'asanas' are there. These asanas are such that they increase the strength of the body and also strengthen our metabolism," he said.
The first "Sunday shutdown" during the 'Unlock' phase with an exception only for hospitals and allied health services brought Chennai and suburbs to a standstill while the city's civic body said its fever camps to help detect coronavirus cases have evoked tremendous response from the people.
It was a virtual curfew with deserted roads, bridges and intersections totally blocked by police using barricades and with the exception of police, sanitary workers and health personnel of the Greater Chennai Corporation (GCC) most others stayed indoors.
Maharashtra has reported the maximum number of cases at 1,28,205, followed by Tamil Nadu at 56,845, Delhi at 56,746, Gujarat at 26,680, Uttar Pradesh at 16,594, Rajasthan at 14,536 and West Bengal at 13,531, according to the Health ministry's data.
The other states with over 10,000 cases were Madhya Pradesh(11,724) and Haryana(10,223).
Of the total 13,254 deaths, Maharashtra accounted for the highest 5,984 followed by (number of deaths in brackets) Delhi (2,112), Gujarat (1,638), Tamil Nadu (704), West Bengal (540), Madhya Pradesh (501), Uttar Pradesh (507), Rajasthan (337) and Telangana (203). Other states accounted for the remaining fatalities.