Centre launches mass COVID-19 awareness drive; India's tally crosses 68 lakh, Delhi surpasses 3 lakh cases
The recovery rate among COVID-19 patients also climbed to 85.25 percent as 58,27,704 persons have recuperated from the infection so far, the Union health ministry said.
As total coronavirus cases in India crossed 68 lakh on Thursday, the Centre launched a mass awareness drive with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his ministerial colleagues urging people to unite in the fight against the pandemic and to take proper precautions.
Modi said India's fight against COVID-19 is people-driven and urged people to follow precautions such as social distancing and wearing masks while Home Minister Amit Shah pushed for a united front in the face of the pandemic.
Let us #Unite2FightCorona!
Let us always remember:
Wear a mask.
Follow social distancing.
Practice ‘Do Gaj Ki Doori.’
Together, we will succeed.
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) October 8, 2020
President Ram Nath Kovind also echoed the call for unity and asked people to defeat COVID-19 through collective determination and discipline.
The nation stands united to defeat COVID-19 through collective determination and discipline.
I urge fellow citizens to #Unite2FightCorona!
Let us all -
▶️Wear a mask,
▶️Practice social distancing
Together we will fight, we will win!
— President of India (@rashtrapatibhvn) October 8, 2020
The campaign was started in view of upcoming festivals, winter season and opening up of the economy.
Meanwhile, as per figures reported by states during the day, Delhi's COVID-19 tally crossed three lakh while the toll in Tamil Nadu crossed 10,000. Maharashtra's case count neared 15 lakh while the toll touched 39,430.
India records 78,524 new cases, 971 deaths in 24 hours
India's COVID-19 caseload surged to 68,35,655 with 78,524 patients testing positive for the virus in 24 hours. But the recovery rate also climbed to 85.25 percent as 58,27,704 persons have recuperated from the infection so far, said the Union health ministry in its morning update.
"Seventy-five percent of the new recoveries are observed to be concentrated in 10 states and UTs. Maharashtra alone has contributed the maximum with more than 16,000 single-day recoveries," the ministry said.
Also, 79 percent of the 78,524 new cases registered in 24 hours are from 10 states and UTs with Maharashtra leading the tally with over 14,000 cases, followed by Karnataka with nearly 11,000 cases.
The toll climbed to 1,05,526 with 971 more succumbing to the disease in the 24 hours between 8 am on Wednesday and Thursday and the fatality rate now stands at 1.54 percent.
Of the new fatalities, nearly 82 percent were reported from Maharashtra, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi, Andhra Pradesh, Punjab, Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh. Maharashtra alone recorded 355 deaths, accounting for 36 percent of the fatalities in 24 hours.
As of Thursday, there are 9,02,425 active cases of coronavirus infection in the country, comprising 13.20 percent of the total caseload, the data showed.
"The active cases are less than 10 lakh for the 17th day in a row," the ministry claimed.
India performing remarkably on testing parameters, claims Centre
Separately, the health ministry asserted that India has performed "remarkably" on fulfilling the World Health Organisation's (WHO) advise of conducting 140 tests per day per million population.
"A total of 35 states/UTs have exceeded the advised number of tests. The national average of tests per day per million population stands at 865," the ministry said.
According to the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), a cumulative total of 8,34,65,975 samples have been tested up to 7 October, with 11,94,321 samples being tested on Wednesday.
The national positivity rate stands at 8.19 percent, while 22 states and UTs have COVID-19 positivity rate less than this figure, the ministry said. It further said that seven states and UTs have a positivity rate of less than five percent.
The ministry attributed the decline in the positivity rate to a sustained increase in testing. The country's testing capacities have increased manifolds and more than 15 lakh samples can be tested every day, it said.
"The sharp decline in national cumulative positivity rate has demonstrated that the rate of spread of infection is being contained," it asserted.
Centre modifies guidelines on political gatherings
The Centre allowed political gatherings in poll-bound Bihar and also in those constituencies where bypolls are to be held with conditions such as capping the number of attendees in a closed space or a hall at 200 and not permitting such gatherings in containment zones.
In a slight modification to the 30 September guidelines, Union Home Secretary Ajay Kumar Bhalla in the revised orders said that political gatherings in closed spaces can be held with maximum 50 percent of the hall capacity and with a ceiling of 200 persons. In open spaces, the size of such gatherings will depend on the space available.
Precautions like wearing of face masks, maintaining social distancing, provision for thermal scanning and use of hand wash or sanitisers will be mandatory in both types of gatherings and detailed SOPs will be issued by the respective state governments,
According to the 30 September guideline, state and UT governments had been given the flexibility to permit social, religious and political gatherings beyond the limit of 100 persons, outside containment zones, after 15 October, subject to the certain conditions like maximum of 50 perccent of the hall capacity with a ceiling of 200 persons and mandatory wearing of face masks.
Also, Civil Aviation minister Hardeep Singh Puri said that airlines may be permitted to operate a maximum of 75 percent of their pre-COVID domestic flights if the passenger numbers continue to remain healthy during the next 7-10 days.
The Ministry of Civil Aviation had restarted domestic passenger services from 25 May, after a gap of two months, with airlines being permitted to operate not more than 33 percent of their pre-COVID domestic flights at that time. On 26 June, the ministry had increased the limit to 45 percent and further to 60 percent on 2 September.
Delhi's case count crosses three lakh
Meanwhile, states and UTs reported their daily numbers. Delhi's coronavirus case count reached 3,00,833 with 2,726 fresh cases while the toll due to the disease mounted to 5,653 with 37 fatalities. Of the total cases, 22,232 are active cases, of which 12,890 patients are in home isolation.
Tamil Nadu's toll touched 10,052 as 68 more died of the infection, while the case tally rose to 6,40,943 with 5,088 fresh infections reported on Thursday. Of the 5,088 new cases, Chennai logged 1,295, Coimbatore 448, Chengelpet 363 and Salem 362.
Maharashtra reported 13,395 new COVID-19 cases, taking its total to 14,93,884 on Thursday, while the toll rose to 39,430 after 58 more patients succumbed to the infection, as per the state health department.
Kerala, which had recorded over 10,000 fresh cases on Wednesday, registered 7,003 recoveries and 5,445 fresh COVID-19 cases on Thursday. The total infection count has touched 2,56,850, while 1,67,256 people have recovered so far and 90,579 are presently undergoing treatment, state healtmh Minister KK Shailaja said. The toll mounted to 930 with 24 deaths.
Gujarat allows rapid antigen tests in private labs
In a respite to citizens, the Gujarat government granted permission to private laboratories for conducting rapid antibody tests, along with the RT-PCR tests which were already permitted.
As per an official release, now citizens can undergo rapid antibody tests at designated laboratories, which are required to take permission from chief district health officers or medical officers of municipal corporations before conducting tests.
Laboratories have been asked to use ICMR-approved ELISA or CLIA rapid antibody test kits and they must mention in the report which kit was used, it was stated. Designated facilities are authorised to charge Rs 450 and Rs 500, respectively, for ELISA and CLIA test kits, and if samples are collected from homes or hospitals, then the charges would be Rs 550 and Rs 600, respectively, the release said.
Testing facilities that are found charging more than the stipulated fees will lose their licence, it was stated.
Gujarat has reported 1,47,951 cases and 3,541 deaths so far.
WHO South-East Asia urges for action plan for vaccine distribution
Till date, the virus has affected 3,62,38,849 people across the globe and has claimed the lives of 10,57,102, as per John Hopkins University's coronavirus tracker.
With the spread of COVID-19 continuing in most countries of the WHO South-East Asia Region, the global body urged the countries to plan for efficient roll out of vaccines as soon as they are available.
"Like the rest of the world, the region continues to be at risk. To stop the spread of COVID-19 virus, we need to do it all continued strong leadership, robust public health measures, clear communication and an engaged, empowered and enabled population," said Dr Poonam Khetrapal Singh, regional director, WHO South-East Asia Region.
In a communication to member countries, the regional director said the global race for a COVID-19 vaccine has gathered momentum. In anticipation of development of a safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine, countries should be prepared with an efficient and coordinated strategy and plan for roll-out of vaccination, she said.
Highlighting that vaccine availability is likely to be limited initially, countries should develop vaccination strategies priroritising at risk populations.
"The COVID-19 vaccination should aim at minimising the societal and economic impact by reducing deaths caused by the disease," Singh said, while listing out nine priority areas for COVID-19 vaccine introduction and roll-out.
In India, as per a PTI report, the government has begun a massive exercise to map out cold chain storage facilities to ensure countrywide vaccine delivery.
Most of the vaccine candidates likely to become available will require a cold supply chain with temperatures that can go well below zero degree Celsius, down to -80 degrees Celsius, though most need to be kept at between 2 and 8 degrees Celsius.
Quoting unnamed sources, the report states that a national expert group is in talks to public and private sector entities in the pharmaceutical sector, food processing industry and agro businesses as well as food delivery start-ups such as Swiggy and Zomato to identify cold storages or fridges at the taluka level that can stock and distribute the vaccines at taluka levels.
A draft scheme for the vaccine distribution is likely to be released around the middle of next week, the report quotes sources as saying.
With inputs from PTI
As part of the celebrations, Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya requested people to get themselves vaccinated and also help others to receive their jab
The state administration has pulled out all the stops. The sheer logistics of the vaccination drive in Madhya Pradesh are mammoth and awe-inspiring due to the vastness of our state
Kerala has administered over 80 percent of eligible population with first dose of COVID vaccine, says Pinarayi Vijayan
The CM, at a press conference, said that over 32 percent of the population eligible for vaccination have received both jabs of the vaccine.