Covid-19 cases rising in 6 states, isn’t time to be negligent: Harsh Vardhan
- Harsh Vardhan’s remarks come in the backdrop of the surge in infections since the last month, especially in Maharashtra and Kerala.
Union health minister Harsh Vardhan said on Friday people must follow social distancing norms and wear masks as cases of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) in several parts of the country reflected a spike in recent days. The health minister’s advice to ensure Covid-appropriate norms comes amid fears that the second wave of the coronavirus pandemic has started in India, according to data analysed by Hindustan Times.
“India has the lowest fatality rate and now the vaccine is here but this is not the time to be negligent regarding Covid appropriate behaviour. Cases are rising in six states due to people's carelessness. I urge all to abide by social distancing and wear masks,” Vardhan told news agency ANI.
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The pace at which cases in Punjab are climbing is the highest in the country. As of Friday, the northern state’s seven-day average of daily cases went up 509% from the trough after the first wave. This almost eight times the national average. Maharashtra, which is witnessing the second-highest resurgence of cases, saw a jump of 331% from its post-peak low seen for the week ending February 11. The western state on Friday logged 15,817 fresh cases, breaching the 15,000 daily case count for the first time in 162 days, according to the state’s health department. Kerala, on the other hand, reported 1,780 new cases taking the state’s infection tally to 1,087,443.
The grim figures come at a time when testing in India is at least 40% off its peak. In the past week, 725,626 samples were tested every day for Covid-19 across the country on average, against a peak of 1,196,972 tests a day on average for the week ending October 10, 2020.
Other states reporting a high number of daily Covid-19 cases are Kerala, Karnataka, Gujarat, and Tamil Nadu. Following the upward trend, the country’s active caseload on Saturday surpassed the 200,000-mark, for the first time since January 19, according to the latest figures released by the health ministry.
According to an expert team sent to Maharashtra, the Covid-inappropriate behaviour, pandemic fatigue, gram panchayat elections, marriage season and opening of schools, crowded public transport were the possible reasons for the upsurge in cases in the western state. While local administrations have already put in place full or partial lockdowns in several districts, chief minister Uddhav Thackeray has warned that they may have to shut down more places if the cases continue to rise.
The central government is regularly reviewing the status of Covid-19 containment and public health measures with states and Union territories reporting an upsurge in daily new cases, the ministry said in a statement. “Recently, the Centre rushed high-level Public Health teams to Maharashtra and Punjab to assist in COVID-19 control and containment measures in view of the recent spike in cases in these States,” the ministry added.
The government said it had earlier also deputed high-level teams to Maharashtra, Kerala, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Punjab, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, and Jammu and Kashmir to support them in their fight against the spike in Covid-19 cases.