Active COVID-19 caseload drops below 5.5 lakh, says Centre; Sitharaman to unveil new economic stimulus 'soon'
Additionally, the Centre also said that the Finance Ministry will announce the next set of stimulus package to boost the coronavirus-hit economy soon
Despite the shadow of the COVID-19 pandemic, people in Bihar and in 10 other states across the country on Tuesday cast their vote in the Assembly election and bypolls respectively. While the bypolls in 54 Assembly constituencies saw a moderate to high turnout, phase two of the Bihar polls saw a turnout of 53.51 percent, the Election Commission said.
Meanwhile, providing a snapshot of the COVID-19 situation in the country, the Union Health Ministry said India crossed another milestone with the number of active cases falling below 5.5 lakh on Tuesday. The ministry added that the active cases now comprise 6.55 percent of the total case load.
"The slide in active cases is supplemented by an exponential rise in recoveries," the ministry said, as the number of recoveries crossed 76 lakh. The national COVID-19 recovery rate has further escalated to 91.96 percent.
However, despite the encouraging nationwide figures, Union health secretary Rajesh Bhushan said that Kerala, Delhi, West Bengal and Manipur have shown a rise in the number of active COVID-19 cases between 3 October and 3 November.
He added that Maharashtra, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Uttar Pradesh, were the most-affected states, registered a decline in active infections during the same period.
Bhushan said from 3 October to 3 November, active cases in West Bengal rose from 26,865 to 36,576, in Kerala from 77,564 to 86,792, in Delhi from 26,450 to 33308 and in Manipur from 2,336 to 3,568.
The country recorded a single-day spike of 38,310 new cases, taking the total caseload to 82,67,623. The toll also rose to 1,23,097 with 490 new deaths.
Additionally, the Centre also said that the finance ministry will announce the next set of stimulus package to boost the coronavirus -hit economy soon.
Additionally, Americans also headed out to vote on Tuesday in one of the most closely-followed presidential elections in decades in which incumbent Republican Donald Trump is challenged by Democrat Joe Biden.
Amid a resurgent COVID-19 pandemic, nearly 100 million people have already cast their ballots in early voting, putting the country on course for its highest turnout in a century. Some 239 million people are eligible to vote this year.
Centre says 4 states saw rise in active cases in one month
At a press briefing on Tuesday, the health ministry said said there has been a continuous decline in average daily new COVID-19 cases as well as deaths for the last seven weeks, because of which "healthcare systems were not unnecessarily burdened and there was less pressure on hospitals".
The average daily new cases of COVID-19 have declined from 90,346 recorded between 16 September and 22 September to 45,884 between 28 October and 3 November, Health ministry secretary Bhushan added.
Regarding COVID-19 deaths, he said, "The average daily new deaths due to COVID-19 have declined from 1,165 recorded from 16 September to 22 September to 513 registered between 28 October and 3 November."
More than 11 crore COVID-19 tests have been conducted so far. The cumulative, weekly and daily positivity rate are constantly declining and stood at 7.4 percent, 4.4 percent and 3.7 percent respectively, the health secretary said.
Asserting that a large part of the country's population was still susceptible to the coronavirus infection, NITI Aayog member (Health) VK Paul, who also heads the National Task Force on COVID-19 , urged people to follow COVID-appropriate behaviour and asked people to get themselves tested if they observe any symptom of the viral disease.
"We are susceptible (to the virus) to a very large extent and the situation in America and Europe is showing (that). We don't know the behaviour of the virus completely. So, we need to save the gains that we have earned in our fight against the pandemic till now," Paul said.
"I request you to kindly get yourself tested if you have any symptoms of COVID-19 . It has been proven that even if you contract the disease, there is recovery," he said.
Nirmala Sitharaman to unveil another stimulus 'soon'
Economic Affairs Secretary Tarun Bajaj said that the finance ministry is looking into suggestions and requests received from various sectors of the economy.
"We are actually discussing that. It is difficult for me to commit a date but we have received a lot of requests and comments from various sectors and we are looking into it. Very soon it will be unveiled. The finance minister will come out and speak to you on that," he said.
Finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman had last month announced a slew of measures to spur demand and increase capital expenditure, PTI reported. This was the third stimulus package since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The government had announced a Rs 1.70 lakh crore Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana (PMGKP) in March to protect the poor and vulnerable sections from the impact of COVID-19 crisis. It was followed by the Aatmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan package of Rs 20.97 lakh crore in May, largely focussed on supply-side measures and long-term reforms.
The finance minister last month had said the option for another stimulus package has not been closed. "I have not closed the option for another stimulus package if it comes out to be, because every time we announced one, it has been after a lot of consideration of inputs which have come from various sections of society," she said.
Weighing in on the economy's recovery, Bajaj said India continues to see an uptick in the economy for the past few months since the Unlock began and there would be further improvement in the months to come.
"We are actually seeing an improvement in all parameters generally and we are expecting further improvement in the month of November and this should continue. Hopefully the economy should be back on rails and it is moving much faster than what had been anticipated by a lot of experts and economists, he said.
Last month, the International Monetary Fund said the Indian economy, severely hit by the coronavirus pandemic, is projected to contract by a massive 10.3 percent this year. However, it projected a rebound to 8.8 percent in 2021.
54 Assembly seats see over 50% turnout despite COVID fears
Moderate to high polling was recorded on Tuesday in by-elections to 54 Assembly constituencies across 10 states, with a nearly 68 percent turnout in 28 seats in Madhya Pradesh, where the results will decide the fate of the seven-month-old BJP government.
Apart from stray incidents of violence in Madhya Pradesh, polling was peaceful as voters, wearing masks and gloves, queued up at polling booths where election staff in personal protective equipment (PPE) suits assisted them during the first pan-India electoral exercise in the pandemic, PTI reported.
"The electoral exercise going on in the country is by far the largest exercise in the world amid the pandemic ...the voter turnout in the first phase has been exceptionally good. The voter turnout has further continued and the confidence level has been much more in this phase," EC Secretary General Umesh Sinha said.
The bypolls coincided with the second phase of assembly elections in Bihar. Counting of votes will be held on 10 November.
While Pungro-Kiphire seat in Nagaland saw the highest voting of 89.8 percent, the turnout was the poorest in Rajarajeshwari Nagar in Karnataka at 39.15 percent, according to figures from officials of respective states. In most of the other seats the polling figure was above 50 percent.
Meanwhile, an average of over 53 percent voters exercised their franchise in seven seats in Uttar Pradesh, where 88 candidates were in the fray, according to state election officials.
India's COVID-19 tally had crossed the 20-lakh mark on 7 August, 30 lakh on 23 August and 40 lakh on 5 September. It went past 50 lakh on 16 September, 60 lakh on 28 September, 70 lakh on 11 October and crossed 80 lakh on 29 October.
According to the ICMR, a cumulative total of 11,17,89,350 samples have been tested up so far with 10,46,247 samples being tested on Monday.
The 490 new fatalities include 104 from Maharashtra, 58 from Chhattisgarh 57 from West Bengal, 42 from Delhi, 31 Tamil Nadu and 29 from Karnataka.
Total 1,23,097 deaths reported so far in the country include 44,128 from Maharashtra followed by 11,221 from Karnataka, 11,183 from Tamil Nadu, 7,076 from Uttar Pradesh, 6,957 from West Bengal, 6,719 from Andhra Pradesh,6,604 from Delhi, 4,227 from Punjab and 3,725 from Gujarat.
With inputs from agencies
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