No COVID-19 deaths in 15 states and UTs over past 24 hrs, South African variant not found in India till now, says Centre
Meanwhile, the number of healthcare and frontline workers vaccinated against COVID-19 reached 65.28 lakh on day 25 of the nationwide inoculation drive, the Union Health Ministry said
Seven states and UTs have reported no new COVID-19 deaths in the last three weeks, while 15 have not registered any fatality in the past 24 hours, according to official figures announced on Tuesday.
The Centre said that 'consistent gains' are being made in terms of declining new cases and causalities.
The Centre, however, noted that the last national serosurvey findings have shown that over 70 percent of the population is still susceptible to the disease.
This, as NITI Aayog member (Health) Dr VK Paul stated that there is no evidence of of the presence of the South African variant of the coronavirus in India as of Monday but added that the government is keeping watch.
Meanwhile, the number of healthcare and frontline workers vaccinated against COVID-19 reached 65.28 lakh on day 25 of the nationwide inoculation drive, the Union health ministry said.
The seven states and UTs, Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Arunachal Pradesh, Tripura, Dadra and Nagar Haveli, Mizoram, Nagaland and Lakshadweep, have reported no new COVID-19 deaths in last three weeks, Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan said.
Addressing a press briefing, he said that India was the fastest country to reach six million vaccination doses of COVID-19 in 24 days. Bhushan said within the country also, some states have performed well, while others need to improve their vaccination coverage.
"There are 12 states and UTs that have vaccinated more than 65 percent of the registered healthcare workers. These states are Bihar (78.1 percent), Tripura (77.1 percent), Madhya Pradesh (76 percent), Uttarakhand (73.7 percent), Odisha (72.4 percent), Mizoram (69.9 percent), Himachal Pradesh (68.7 percent), Uttar Pradesh (68 percent), Andaman and Nicobar Islands (67.9 percent), Rajasthan (67.2 percent), Kerala (66.9 percent) and Lakshadweep (66.7 percent)," he said.
On the other hand, Bhushan said, there are 11 states and UTs that have vaccinated less than 40 percent of healthcare workers. These are Puducherry (15.4 percent), Manipur (21.3 percent), Nagaland (21.5 percent), Meghalaya (24.3 percent), Chandigarh (28.7 percent), Punjab (34.1 percent), Dadra and Nagar Haveli (34. 5 percent), Ladakh (35.8 percent), Jammu and Kashmir (37.5 percent) and Delhi (38 percent).
"These are the states we are in touch with and telling them to increase the coverage," he said. Bhushan said the Centre has advised states and UTs that all frontline workers must be scheduled for vaccination at least once by 1 March, 2021.
"We have further advised states and UTs that all frontline workers must be given opportunity of mop-up rounds by 6 March, 2021. Those frontline workers who do not get vaccinated in scheduled vaccination rounds or in mop-up rounds will have to be relegated to the age-specific vaccination rounds," he said.
Bhushan said a meeting of National AEFI Committee was held on 5 February where discussions were held on 8 AEFI cases following COVID-19 vaccinations.
"Out of these eight cases, causality assessment of five cases (two deaths and three hospitalised) was conducted. Among hospitalised cases, all three were discharged. Two have been diagnosed as anaphylaxis; classified as vaccine-product related reaction (known and expected reactions following vaccinations) and one case diagnosed as syncope: classified as immunization triggered stress response (anxiety reaction)," he said.
Among cases of deaths, Bhushan said it was found they were not related to vaccination.
Bhushan said histopathology and chemical analysis report in three death cases are awaited from the state government.
"We are making a standard template through which we will put information in public domain," he said.
'South Africa variant of coronavirus not found in India'
Addressing a press briefing, Dr VK Paul, speaking on the effectiveness of the Covishield vaccine on the South Africa strain, said it is hinted through a study which has its limitations that Covishield gives minimal protection against mild infection, but it still continues to be effective against severe disease and in reducing mortality.
"We have no concern at this moment as we have a system in place for detecting this variant. As of yesterday, this particular variant is not in the country but we are keeping a watch," he said, adding surveillance will be intensified.
From the COVID-19 pandemic point of view, consistent gains are being made in terms of declining new cases and new deaths, Paul said.
He, however, noted that the last national serosurvey findings have shown that over 70 percent of the population are still susceptible to the disease and stressed on achieving herd immunity through vaccination.
Underscoring both Covishield and Covaxin vaccines as "superbly safe", Paul urged healthcare and frontline workers who have not yet taken the shots to get themselves vaccinated.
Covishield, manufactured by Serum Institute of India, and Covaxin of Bharat Biotech have been approved for restricted emergency use in the country by India''s drugs regulator. Shared his views on the progress of the nationwide COVID-19 vaccination programme, Paul said, "We can confidently say that the strategy to implement the vaccination programme and the experience of vaccination is now very highly rated by people."
No fresh COVID-19 deaths in Delhi
No fresh COVID-19 death was recorded in the National Capital on Tuesday after a gap of over 10 months while 100 fresh cases were registered with the Arvind Kejriwal government asserting that "Delhi''s collective will is gradually winning over the infection". The cumulative death toll on Monday stood at 10,882, and the positivity rate dipped to 0.18 per cent on Tuesday.
Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal tweeted in Hindi, saying, it was a "good news for Delhiites".
"Today no death has been reported due to COVID infection in Delhi. Congratulations to people of Delhi. Corona cases have also come down and vaccination drive has picked up pace. People of Delhi have fought a tough battle against Corona. We have to still take all precautions," he tweeted.
These 100 new cases came out of the 56,410 tests conducted the previous day. The positivity rate stood at 0.18 per cent, according to a bulletin issued by the Delhi health department.
Health Minister Satyendar Jain tweeted: "Today no death has been reported due to COVID infection. Delhi''s collective will is gradually winning over the infection. I congratulate the people of Delhi for taking proper precautions and our healthcare and frontline workers who have fought this battle tooth and nail".
The infection tally in the city rose to 6,36,260, authorities said. The active cases tally on Tuesday dropped to 1,052 from 1,096 the previous day, according to the bulletin. The total number of tests conducted the previous day, included 31,300 RT-PCR tests and 25,110 rapid antigen tests, it said.
The city had recorded 96 coronavirus cases on January 27, the lowest in over nine months, and the first time the daily incidence count had stood below the 100-mark in that month. On Friday and Sunday, two deaths were reported in the national capital, same as on February 2, which was the lowest in the last 10 months.
'COVID-19 seropositivity among health workers over 25%'
Minister of State for Health Ashwini Choubey told the Rajya Sabha that the overall COVID-19 seropositivity among healthcare workers is assessed to be 25.7 percent as per the third seroprevalence study.
Responding to a question on how many healthcare workers have contracted COVID-19 virus till date, Choubey said health being a state subject, centralised data on number of healthcare workers who have contracted COVID-19 virus till date is not maintained by the Ministry of Health.
Sero survey or Seroprevalence studies are based on analysis of antibodies collected through blood sample collection.
"However, the Indian Council of Medical Research is undertaking periodic sero-surveillance to monitor the trend of COVID-19 infection. As per the third seroprevalence study (December 2020 to January 2021) results the overall COVID-19 seropositivity among healthcare workers is assessed to be 25.7 percent," he said in a written reply.
Seroprevalence is highest among doctors and nurses (26.6 percent), followed by para-medical staff (25.4 percent), field staff (25.3 percent) and administrative staff (24.9 percent), Choubey said in a written reply.
These seroprevalence rates have been found to be a little higher than that in general population which has been estimated as 21.5 percent, he said.
In response to another question, Choubey said, health being a state subject, the Ministry of Health does not maintain data relating to the number of healthcare workers who lost their lives due to COVID-19, state-wise, job-wise and public-private hospital-wise.
With inputs from PTI
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