New Delhi, Sep 16, 2020: As India’s COVID-19 caseload surged 49 lakhs with the addition of 83,809 fresh cases, the Centre on Tuesday highlighted that the number of coronavirus recoveries was amongst the highest in the world.
India’s COVID-19 caseload stands at 49,30,236 with 83,809 people testing positive in a day, while 38,59,399 people have recuperated so far taking the national recovery rate to 78.28 percent on Tuesday, according to Union health ministry data updated at 8 am.
The toll climbed to 80,776 with 1,054 people succumbing to the disease in 24 hours, data showed.
"India’s COVID-19 recoveries have surged to more than 38.59 lakh, which is one of the highest in the world. According to the Johns Hopkins University Coronavirus Resource Center, this is the highest number of recoveries in the world," Union health secretary Rajesh Bhushan said at a press briefing.
Bhushan said there are 14 states and Union Territories (UTs) in the country where the number of active cases is less than 5,000. The total number of active cases in 18 states and UTs stands between 5,000 and 50,000, while there only four states have more than 50,000 active cases.
The Centre also stated that the country had learnt from the experience of nations that suffered high mortalities to avoid a "huge peak" in terms of deaths.
Director-General of the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) Dr Balram Bhargav said that India had "distributed the curve" after witnessing the experience of the United States and countries in the Europe, which saw high mortality during the "peak" of the epidemic.
"....whether it was Spain, the UK or Sweden or Italy, there were a huge number of mortalities... There was a peak which came down and then they had a second wave which is recently occurring in those countries," he said.
Building on the learnings of these countries, India distributed the curve in such a way as to prevent a large number of deaths from occurring, Bhargava said, adding that that was attributable scientifically because of a "very effective lockdown" imposed in late March, April and May.
"So, we did not really have a huge peak from that perspective," he said.
Minister of State (MoS) for Health and Family Welfare Ashwini Choubey too, in response to a question in Rajya Sabha, said the lockdown from 25 March to 31 May successfully controlled the aggressive transmission of COVID-19 in India but added that there has been a steady rise in cases post-lockdown.
Five states €" Maharashtra (29.5 percent), Karnataka (9.9 percent), Andhra Pradesh (9.4 percent), Uttar Pradesh (6.8 percent) and Tamil Nadu (4.7 percent) €" account for 60 percent of the total active cases in the country, Bhushan said.
He presented a graph showing the daily average of new cases on a week-on-week basis, starting from the first week of July in the five states.
The graph showed an increasing trend of cases in Maharashtra, while stabilisation is observed over the last three weeks in Karnataka, Bhushan said.
India’s cases per million population stand at 3,573, while the global average is 3,704, he said. The country’s COVID-19 deaths per million population stand at 58 against global average of 118 and this is also amongst the lowest in the world, he claimed.
Asserting that there has been a progressive rise in India’s COVID-19 testing, Bhushan said, "We took 27 days to double our testing from 1 crore to 2 crore. However, we took only 10 days to jump from 4 crore tests to 5 crore tests."
Over 5.8 crore tests have been conducted so far, out of which more than 76 lakh tests were conducted in the last week.
COVID-19 reinfection "very, very rare,"
The Centre also asserted that there was absolutely "no shortage" of medical oxygen, vital in the treatment of coronavirus, at the national level, while urging states to ensure proper inventory management at hospital-level and advance planning for timely replenishment so that there is no stockout.
Bhargava said reinfection was a "very, very rare" with COVID-19, but it can happen. The ICMR DG, however, said it was not a matter of serious concern.
In his remarks, Bhargava also said the National Task Force on COVID-19 and the joint monitoring group (JMG) of the health ministry will take a decision on whether to continue plasma therapy in the treatment of COVID-19 patients after reviewing the data of its randomised controlled trial.
In Arunachal Pradesh, Chief Minister Pema Khandu said he had tested positive for the coronavirus infection and is presently in home isolation in New Delhi.
He said that he has self-isolated himself and requested everyone who came in contact with him to adhere to the standard operating procedure. Khandu went to the National Capital on official visit on 12 September.
In Uttar Pradesh, the condition of former chief minister Kalyan Singh, who earlier tested positive for coronavirus infection is stable, the hospital treating him said.
"The condition of Singh is stable. He is afebrile and maintaining 100 percent oxygen saturation on room air. He is not having fever and his BP is also normal. He has been shifted to a private room and is under observation due to comorbidities," a health bulletin released by Sanjay Gandhi Postgraduate Institute of Medical Sciences (SGPGI) said on Tuesday evening.
Phase-1 trials of indigenous vaccines show ’excellent safety’, says minister
Meanwhile, billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates said India’s willingness to play a "big role" in manufacturing COVID-19 vaccine and allow it to supply to other developing countries will play critical part in containing the pandemic globally.
In an interview to news agency PTI, Gates, whose foundation is focusing on fighting the pandemic, called it the "next biggest thing" that has confronted the world since the World War.
The ICMR director-general said three vaccines are at clinical trial stages in the country and two indigenously developed ones by Cadila Healthcare Ltd and Bharat Biotech have completed phase-I trial. The results are being analysed and they have completed recruitment for the second phase, he said.
MoS Choubey informed the Rajya Sabha that the Phase-I clinical trials have revealed "excellent safety" of the two indigenously developed candidate vaccines and their immunogenicity testing is now in progress.
He said around 40 lakh people have been kept under surveillance as a part of the contact-tracing efforts and 5.4 crore samples were tested for coronavirus till September.
As many as 155 healthcare staff, including 64 doctors, have died due to coronavirus, according to ’Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Package Insurance Scheme for Health Workers Fighting COVID-19’ which provides relief in case of death of such workers, he said in response to a question.
India is the second worst-hit nation in terms of COVID-19 cases after the US, while it is in the third spot in fatalities after the US and Brazil, according to Johns Hopkins University data.