Nine of the top 10 worst Covid-19 affected districts with the highest active cases in the country were in Maharashtra. Pune tops this list with 43,590 active cases followed by Mumbai at 26,599 cases and Thane had 22,513 active cases. Pune added 5,741 cases on Wednesday. Punjab too was reporting higher positivity cases with Jalandhar, SAS Nagar, Ludhiana, Patiala and Hoshiarpur each reporting 2,000 plus active cases.
The surge in Maharashtra and Punjab was of grave concern to the Union Health Ministry has called a meeting of all the district administration heads and health secretaries on Saturday to refine strategies to control the spread, the ministry secretary, Rajesh Bhushan said in a media briefing on Wednesday. Apart from Maharashtra and Punjab, there were concerns over surges in Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Chattisgarh. The total active cases in the country on Wednesday was 3,68,457.
While there was an increase in the number of the mutant virus variants in the country, Bhushan said so far there was no linkage of a surge in different states and the genomic mutation of the Covid-19 virus. There were 771 cases of the UK variants, South African and Brazilian variants detected in the country. The health secretary said there will be no change in either testing or treatment strategies or any deviation from the public health measures whether it was the older virus or the mutants. A new novel Indian variant has also been sequenced but this too was not a serious concern now.
All the state governments in the country have been urged to follow the Delhi government’s decision to impose strict restrictions on super-spreader festival events and social gatherings by invoking special provisions permitted by the Home Ministry. Holi, Easter and social gatherings during new year celebrations could become super-spreader events.
The last time the country hit its peak was from September 2020 when the festival season begins, warned V K Paul, member (health) NITI Aayog. Paul said it was important to impose these restrictions to avoid the September-peak situation as the country still had a 65%-75% susceptible population, Paul said. The total active cases in the country had gone up to 10.17 lakh in mid-September 2020 and had managed to come down to 1.36 lakh cases in February ’21 but had risen to 3.68 lakh cases in March 2021.
Total immunisation in the country has crossed the 5-crore mark. The widening of the age group eligible for vaccination to 45 years and above was significant as 88% of the Covid-19 deaths in the country was seen in this age group. With a case fatality rate of 2.85%, the death rate in this group was more than double the normal indicating that this was the most susceptible and vulnerable age group.
The Co-Win application will begin registration for those above 45 years on April 1, 2021. Paul said the country had an adequate supply of vaccines to immunize the increase in the number of beneficiaries and there will be no shortage of supplies. There were no adverse effects or blood clotting related issues reported in the country after administering the Covishied vaccine and there was no signal for as the Covishield vaccine was safe, he assured.