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India Achieve New Landmark in Coronavirus Recoveries, Most States Also Showing Downward Trend in New Cases

Manas Dasgupta

NEW DELHI, Oct 25: Against the global trend of spiraling Corona cases with the western world facing a second wave, India’s rate of recovery from the Covid-19 has touched 90% with 62,077 people recovering in the last 24 hours, the Union ministry of health and family welfare said on Sunday. This took the total recoveries to 7,078,123, it added.

“India records a new Milestone: Recovery Rate touches 90.00%. 62,077 have recovered and discharged in the last 24 hours whereas the new confirmed cases stand at 50,129,” the ministry said  in a Twitter message. With Saturday’s additions, more than 78.64 lakh people in India have been infected with the virus so far, out of which 70.78 lakh, or 90 per cent, have recovered. The death count has reached more than 1.18 lakh so far.

The decline in the number of cases in India has gone against the global trend of rising numbers in most of the disease hotspots. The United States has been reporting more than 60,000 cases a day, a level not reached since early August. France has reported more than 40,000 cases for the last two days, according to the World Health Organisation database. Record levels are being reached in Italy, Spain, the United Kingdom and several other countries as well.

In India, current numbers are almost half of the peak that was achieved in the third week of September, and declining steadily. And the profile of main contributing states has also changed. On Saturday, Kerala once again emerged as the single largest contributor of new cases. This is for the first time that any state other than Maharashtra has been the biggest contributor of cases for two consecutive days.

The union health ministry said the achievement was matched by the downward spiral of the total active cases, which were maintained below the seven lakh-mark for the third consecutive day.

India’s touched 90 per cent recovery rate on a day when the Prime Minister Narendra Modi talked about the changed festive scenario in the country. In his monthly radio broadcast “Mann ki Baat,” Modi spoke about the pandemic that forced the people to stay indoors at the time of the year when streets usually would have been the most crowded. He, however, stressed on the need to continue to take precautionary measures in the fight against the deadly virus. Apparently hinting at the China-made low-priced electrical materials sold in high numbers during Diwali, Modi urged the people to underline the importance of “vocal for local” slogan by preferring India-made goods to celebrate the festivals over foreign materials,

According to the government, 75% of the new recovered cases are concentrated in 10 states – Maharashtra, Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, Delhi, Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Uttar Pradesh, and Chhattisgarh with Maharashtra leading the tally with more than 10,000 single day recoveries.

Earlier in the day, the health ministry also brought to light the rapid pace of recoveries in the country. According to the data it cited, it took three months to achieve three million recoveries from 0.1 million between July and September whereas they surpassed seven million in one and a half months ending October.

According to the government data, the active cases at 668,154 accounted for only 8.5% of the total positive cases in the country, with 79% of the new cases coming from 10 states and Union territories. Kerala has logged the maximum new cases with more than 8,000 cases followed by Maharashtra with more than 6,000 cases.

For the 22nd consecutive day, more people recovered from the disease than fell ill, a trend that has resulted in a significant decline in active cases in the country. As on Saturday, there were just about 6.68 lakh active cases, down from over ten lakh a month ago with recoveries exceeding active cases by 6.4 million.

The daily toll from the infection also continues to experience a downward slope with less than 1,000 deaths since last one week. In the last 24 hours, 578 people died due to Covid-19. The casualty figure has remained less than 1,100 since October 2.

Giving details of the state-wise figures of new Corona cases, the health ministry pointed out that Kerala reported more than 8,200 new cases on Saturday, while Maharashtra found only about 6,400, the second lowest in about three months. At one point of time, Maharashtra used to be not just the largest contributor, but also accounted for almost 40 per cent of the cases reported across India. That daily share has gone down below 15 per cent now.

Delhi and West Bengal have been the other big contributors in the last few days. Delhi is witnessing the third wave of surge, and for the last two days, it has reported more than 4,000 cases. West Bengal has now reported more than 4,000 cases for the last five days. The recent surge in the state is being attributed to the Durga Puja festivities.

Across most other states, the numbers are declining steadily. This now includes Karnataka, which till last week, was reporting numbers similar to Kerala, or even higher. In the last week, however, Karnataka has slowed down considerably, and its daily numbers have fallen below 5,000. On Saturday, the state reported less than 4,500 cases, the lowest since August 10.

Similar has been the trend in Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu. Their daily cases have dropped to about 3,000 a day. Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu have the highest number of cases in the country after Maharashtra.

In Chhattisgarh, the daily new cases have come down from the peaks witnessed in September, but the state has been reporting large number of deaths in the last few weeks. It is one of the very few states to see a rise in its case fatality ratio that has gone past one per cent now. For the last three days, more than 50 coronavirus related deaths have been reported from the state. The total death count is touching 1,800.

Meanwhile, India’s testing lab network also achieved a new landmark as the total number of labs has crossed 2000. Starting from one lab in Pune, the number of labs stands at 2003 which included 1126 government and 877 private laboratories.

With the recovery rate steadily improving and active cases declining, the centre has stressed the need for carrying out vaccine delivery system on a “mission mode.” As Modi has emphasised on an IT-backed system to ensure vaccine delivery to the last mile — like the election process in the country — the expert group is learnt to be planning to include digital features like SMS, digital certificate in the vaccine delivery process, reports said.

The Centre had set up a National Expert Committee on Vaccine Administration, led by Niti Aayog member V K Paul. The committee is laying out a detailed plan of vaccine storage and delivery as Indian awaits its first vaccine by the beginning of 2021.

The poll promises of free Corona vaccine to all by various states facing Assembly elections or by-polls notwithstanding, the Centre has already asked state governments to send list of priority groups who should get the vaccines first. The information of the beneficiaries will be added to the Electronic Vaccine Intelligence Network (eVIN) — a digital platform under National Health Mission, which is already being used at different immunization programmes at 32 states/UTs. It provides real-time information on vaccine stocks, flows, cold storages etc. But at present, it doesn’t track the beneficiaries, official sources said.

The sources said the vaccination drive would be conducted on the election mode and in phases with schools to be used as booths. The first phase of vaccination was expected to cover 30 million people, including some seven million doctors and paramedics who are on the frontline of the fight, and another 20 million other frontline health workers. The expert panel is also mulling to use SMS facility to send a message to the beneficiary informing them about the time, date, venue of their vaccine dosage.

“We have our own digital platform that has all updated information — from vaccine procurement to storage, cold chain and transportation in refrigerated vehicles. This facility already exists in India, and what the government is contemplating is how to augment this facility to be able to deliver Covid-19 vaccine,” Union health secretary Rajesh Bhushan said.