Addressing the surge in COVID-19 cases across the country, the Health Ministry on Tuesday informed that it had communicated its concern to states reporting a steady rise in the number of COVID-19 cases. Highlighting that off the 10 districts reporting a steep surge in the COVID-19 cases, 8 districts are from Maharashtra, the Centre said that it had conveyed measures that the authorities need to enforce to curb the virus spread. Pune, Mumbai, Thane, Nagpur, Nashik, Aurangabad, Bengaluru Urban, Nanded, Delhi and Ahmednagar are amongst the 10 districts reporting the highest number of daily cases.
As of Tuesday noon, India has 5,40,720 active COVID-19 cases with 1,62,114 deaths due to the virus. The recovery rate has reached 94.19%. Noting that India had witnessed the peak of the Coronavirus spread in September last year, the Health Ministry pointed out that there has been a constant rise in the number of daily cases since mid-February after the steep fall witnessed before. The weekly national average positivity rate is 5.65%. Maharashtra has a weekly average of 23%, Punjab has a weekly average of 8.82%, Chhattisgarh 8%, Madhya Pradesh 7.82%, Tamil Nadu 2.50%, Karnataka 2.45%, Gujarat 2.2% and Delhi 2.04%, Union health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan said in the briefing on Tuesday noon.
Citing the rise in states, the Health Ministry stated that Punjab is neither conducting an adequate number of tests nor being able to promptly isolate COVID-19 positive people. "In Maharashtra, there are 337928 active cases at present. During the second week of February, Maharashtra reported 3,000 daily cases at an average and now the average number of cases has reached 34000. This is the extent of the increase in COVID. The weekly positivity rate is more 23%," he added.
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To curb the virus spread, Bhushan said that the Health Ministry had engaged in a comprehensive dialogue with the state and district authorities.
"We spoke to the state authorities and district authorities reporting high cases. We engaged in a comprehensive dialogue initiated by the Union Health Ministry. We questioned them why wasn't an increase in the number of tests reported if there was a surge in cases. There is a need to increase testing, especially RT-PCR tests. The rapid antigen can be used as a screening test. We also urged them to enhance the isolation process of COVID-19 patients. It is found that COVID-19 patients were not being isolated in most of the states," Health Secretary Bhushan said.
The Health Ministry also clarified that it has not received any request from the Maharashtra government to open vaccination for all. "Till date, we haven't received any specific request from Maharashtra Govt. In India, we do Universal Immunisation but even there we've not done door to door vaccination," Bhushan said.