Why Maharashtra, MP, Kerala, Chhattisgarh and Punjab are witnessing sudden spike in COVID-19 cases; details

Punjab reported 383 new cases on Friday, reporting a sudden spike from its 260 new cases a week ago.

Coronavirus in India: While coronavirus cases are on decline, with as many as 18 states not having reported any deaths related to COVID-19 on Friday, there are five states that have been reporting an increase in cases. The national positivity rate in the country stands at 5.22% currently, indicating a decline over the past 13 days. However, Maharashtra, Punjab, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, and Chhattisgarh have been demonstrating an uptick in the number of cases.

According to a report in The Indian Express (IE), the rise in daily Covid-19 cases in these states can be linked to five people who recently returned to India and have been found to carry more infectious coronavirus variants from Brazil and South Africa.

According to the data shared by the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare on Saturday, Maharashtra on Friday reported a whopping 6,112 new cases (over 6,000 cases for consecutive days), a steep increase from Thursday, and even a bigger one from about 3,600 cases a week ago. This is also the highest number of cases Maharashtra has reported since the beginning of 2021. Meanwhile, Kerala also continues to report a high number of daily cases, reporting over 4,500 new cases on Friday. While this is lower than the number of cases the state had reported a week ago, they still are a cause of concern.

Amid this, Karnataka, which shares borders with both Maharashtra and Kerala, on Saturday imposed restrictions on people coming from Maharashtra, making it mandatory for people to carry negative RT-PCR certificates not older than three days before they enter Karnataka. A similar guideline for people coming from Kerala had been issued earlier in the week by the Karnataka Health Department.

Moreover, Maharashtra has again placed Washim, Amravati, Buldana, Yavatmal, and Akola under strict restrictions, with two of these districts now being placed under partial lockdown. Notably, a sample in Amravati was found to contain South Africa, Brazil and UK coronavirus strains, which spreads quickly.

Meanwhile, Punjab reported 383 new cases on Friday, reporting a sudden spike from its 260 new cases a week ago. Madhya Pradesh has also reported a similar spike, going from 194 cases a week ago to 297 on Friday, while Chhattisgarh’s cases went up from 229 to 259.

The Union Health Ministry on Sunday said in a statement that Kerala and Maharashtra accounted for over 74% of the active cases in the country currently. Moreover, it added that daily cases have also increased in Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Punjab and Jammu and Kashmir as well.

The ministry added that these states have been advised to work on five key areas, first of them being to focus on increasing the proportion of RT-PCR tests and therefore improving the overall testing in the states. Apart from that, the states have been asked to mandatorily follow up all negative Rapid Antigen Tests with RT-PCR tests. Moreover, strict surveillance and stringent containment measures must be taken in concerned districts, along with regular monitoring of the mutant strains of the virus. Lastly, clinical management must also be undertaken in districts where higher deaths are being reported, the Centre said.

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