NEW DELHI— The number of COVID-19 deaths inched towards 100 on Saturday along with a significant increase in the number of confirmed infections, but the government assured there was no need to panic as the rate of spread was less than in many other countries and just “one place” accounted for 30 per cent of detected cases.
The Health Ministry said the testing capacity has been ramped up significantly to over 10,000 tests per day to detect the deadly coronavirus infection, as it emphasised on continuous compliance to lockdown and social distancing measures, along with personal and environmental hygiene, to win this “daily battle”.
Officials said at least 1,023 confirmed cases of infection have been found to be linked to the Tablighi Jamaat congregation in the national capital last month, but massive efforts by various authorities have led to nearly 22,000 people linked to the religious grouping and their primary contacts getting quarantined.
The Tablighi-linked infections, found across 17 states, including Tamil Nadu, Delhi, Andhra Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh, showed that almost 30 per cent of them are from “one particular place where we could not sort of understand it and manage it”, Union Health Ministry Joint Secretary Lav Agarwal said.
The data shared by Agarwal and other government officials in their daily press briefing showed that an average of one in 25 people tested for the infection have found to be a positive case, while the mortality rate among those testing positive appeared even less at one in 30.
Officials said about 75,000 tests have been conducted so far, with the number of daily tests doubling to more than 10,000 from about 5,000 a few days ago. While the number of government labs has increased to over 100, several private labs have also been roped in, Agarwal said.
Globally, more than 11 lakh people have tested positive so far since the outbreak of this deadly virus in December last, which has left nearly 60,000 dead. The US alone has seen over 2.7 lakh confirmed cases while it recorded nearly 1,500 deaths within 24 hours between Thursday and Friday. Italy has recorded the maximum deaths at nearly 15,000.
Agarwal said a total of 2,902 COVID-19 cases have been reported so far in India, with an increase of 601 in last 24 hours ― the highest for such a period ― with at least 58 of them in critical condition in Kerala, Delhi and Madhya Pradesh. In the same time span, 12 more have died taking the nationwide toll to 68, Agarwal said.
However, according to a PTI tally of figures reported by states directly showed at least 94 deaths across the country while the number of confirmed cases of infection had crossed 3,250 as on Saturday late afternoon.
Of them more than 200 have been cured and discharged.
Maharashtra reported a sharp increase in the number of cases to 537, while Rajasthan, Assam, Odisha, Andhra Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Gujarat also reported rise in infections since Friday night, while more deaths were reported from Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Karnataka.
Agarwal said the rate of doubling of cases is still very low in India, compared to many other countries, but it must be kept in mind that the country is dealing with a communicable disease and fighting a daily battle.
“We may be successful today, but may not be so tomorrow and to win this battle we need support of everyone including the public,” he said, while emphasising the need for continuously following the lockdown and social distancing measures, as also personal and environmental hygiene.
“We are as strong as the weakest link in this chain and we can win this battle only with support of everyone,” he said.
Sharing the age-group analysis of COVID-19 patients, Agarwal said the maximum 42 per cent are of 21-40 years, 33 per cent of 41-60 years, 17 per cent are above 60 years and 9 per cent are of 0-20 years.
The elderly people and those with other medical complications are said to be at higher risk in this pandemic. In Delhi also, five of the six COVID-19 patients who have died were above 60.
At the briefing, government officials said the lockdown is being effectively implemented across the country while supply of essential goods is also going on well, as they expressed confidence we all together will be “successful in breaking the COVID-19 chain”.
The officials also asked people to refrain from using alcohol-based hand sanitisers while lighting lamps on Sunday night, for which Prime Minister Narendra Modi has made an appeal to show solidarity in the fight against COVID-19. They also said that apprehensions about a possible grid collapse due to collecting switching off of lights at that time was misplaced.
On the recent advisory about use of home-made face covers, the Health Ministry officials said it was only for conveying the message of personal hygiene measures.
Among various states, Uttar Pradesh reported a significant increase in the number of coronavirus cases to 227, including 94 cases linked to the Tablighi Jamaat congregation in Delhi last month.
Of these, 21 have fully recovered while others are undergoing treatment at hospitals, Principal Secretary (Medical and Health) Amit Mohan Prasad said. Two have died in the state so far.