Daily COVID-19 cases drop below 50,000; lowest fatality rate since 22 March, says Centre
Meanwhile, Maharashtra deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar joined the list of ministers and politicians who have tested positive for COVID-19
India's COVID-19 figures on Monday indicated an improvement according to the Union health ministry, as the number of new cases reported dropped below 50,000 for the second time this month, and the case fatality rate recorded was the lowest since 22 March.
Additionally, the number of COVID-19 deaths in the last 24 hours were less than 500 after 108 days, the ministry said.
A single-day spike of 45,148 new cases took the total caseload to 79,09,959 on Monday, and the toll climbed to 1,19,014 with 480 new fatalities.
On the other hand, a total of 71,37,228 people have recuperated so far, pushing the national recovery rate to 90.23 percent, while the case fatality rate fell to 1.50 percent.
Meanwhile, Maharashtra deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar joined the list of ministers and politicians who have tested positive for COVID-19 in India.
Pawar , who is also the state finance minister, added that he has been admitted to a hospital in Mumbai as a precautionary measure and that his health is "fine".
"I have tested positive for COVID-19 . My health condition is fine. As a precautionary measure, I have got admitted to Breach Candy Hospital on the advice of doctors," he said, and appealed to NCP workers and citizens not to worry.
Guterres opened an online session of the World Health Summit with a call for worldwide solidarity in the global crisis and demanded that developed countries support health systems in countries that are short of resources.
The coronavirus pandemic is the overarching theme of the summit, which originally had been scheduled for Berlin. Several leaders and experts who spoke at the opening stressed the need to cooperate across borders.
More than 42 million have been infected with the virus and over 1 million people have died of COVID-19 , AP reported.
'Active cases below 7 lakh for four days in a row'
Providing an overall snapshot of the COVID-19 situation in the country, the Union health ministry also said that the tally of active cases remained below seven lakh for four days in a row on Monday.
There are 6,53,717 active cases in the country as on date, which comprises 8.26 percent of the total caseload, the data stated.
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 and crossed 70 lakh on 11 October.
According to the ICMR, a cumulative total of 10,34,62,778 samples have been tested up to 24 October with 9,39,309 samples being tested on Sunday.
'India's COVID-19 fatality rate at 1.50%, lowest since 22 March'
The ministry added that the COVID-19 case fatality rate had dropped to the lowest since 22 March and credited the "focused efforts" of the Centre, states and UTs on effective clinical management of hospitalised cases.
There are 14 states and Union Territories including Rajasthan, Jharkhand, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Bihar, Odisha, Assam and Kerala where the CFR is lower than 1 percent, the ministry said.
"India has one of the lowest fatality rates in the world. The case fatality rate is lowest since 22 March and is continuously declining," the ministry said as it underlined that the case fatality rate was 3.23 percent on 4 May.
As part of the COVID-19 management and response policy, the Centre has had a sharp focus on not only containing the spread of the disease but to reduce deaths and save lives by providing quality clinical care to critical and severe patients, the ministry said.
"Also, many states have conducted population surveys to map and identify the vulnerable population like the elderly, pregnant women and those with comorbidities. This, with the help of technological solutions like mobile apps has ensured keeping the high-risk population under continuous observation, thus aiding early identification, timely clinical treatment and reducing fatalities.
"At the ground level, frontline health workers like ASHAs and ANMs have done a commendable job of managing the migrant population and to enhance awareness at the community level," the ministry said.
The total number of recoveries have crossed 71 lakh (71,37,228). A higher number of single day recoveries is also reflected in the continuous increase in the national recovery rate, which is 90.23 percent at present, the ministry highlighted.
Seventy-eight percent of the new recovered cases are observed to be concentrated in 10 states and a UT: Karnataka, Kerala, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, Delhi, Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan.
Karnataka contributed the most to the single-day tally of recoveries with more than 10,000 discharged patients, followed by Kerala with more than 7,000.
The new coronavirus cases registered on Monday is "the lowest since 22 July when 37,000 new cases were added", the ministry said.
Kerala and Maharashtra contributed the maximum to the new confirmed cases with more than 6,000 cases each followed by Karnataka, Delhi and West Bengal with more than 4,000 cases, the ministry said.
'Prepared to tackle predicted rise in COVID-19 cases'
Delhi health minister Satyendar Jain said that the government is prepared to tackle the predicted rise in COVID-19 cases in the upcoming festive and winter season.
Jain's remark came after a high-level expert committee led by NITI Aayog member VK Paul had recently pointed out that hospitals in Delhi should prepare for 15,000 daily cases owing to a spike in respiratory illnesses with winter setting in along with COVID-19 cases.
"The expert committee had said that due to winter and festive season, cases (of coronavirus disease per day) can spike up to 12,000-14,000 but right now it is around 4,000 (per day) so the situation is contained.
"We are focused on containment, contact tracing and isolation to tackle the situation. We are completely cautious and prepared, " Jain told reporters.
He said, "People should not show any leniency in following social distancing norms. People who are not wearing masks are also being penalised," Jain said.
Scientists say air pollution may hinder India's fight
The causal link between air pollution and COVID-19 cases is yet to be conclusively established, but long-term exposure will certainly make people more vulnerable to lung infections, warn scientists as the skies over large parts of north India, including Delhi, turn smoky and the air quality deteriorates rapidly.
Their concerns come amid several global studies pointing to the possible connection between higher air pollution levels and increased COVID-19 cases and deaths.
A study by researchers at Harvard University in the US in September showed that an increase of only one microgram per cubic metre in PM 2.5 is associated with an 8 percent increase in the COVID-19 death rate.
"Given the current limited literature, the surge of PM2.5 level in Delhi maybe linked to increased COVID-19 cases... Although the literature is relatively sparse at this stage," Xiao Wu, corresponding author of the Harvard study, told PTI.
He said the relationship between long-term air pollution and COVID-19 has been documented in many studies, which indicate that adverse health impacts of air pollution can make people prone to the infection or exacerbate the severity of COVID-19 symptoms once infected.
Another study by the University of Cambridge in April found an association between living in an area of England with high levels of air pollution and the severity of COVID-19 , caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus.
"Based on our findings, I would expect to see an association between higher levels of air pollution in India and COVID-19 in the winter, similar with what we found in England," said Marco Travaglio, corresponding author of the Cambridge study.
"If the levels of air pollution have been consistently above the legal limits for several months or years before this coming winter, I would expect to see a relationship between those levels and COVID-19 burden across different parts of India in November and thereafter," Travaglio told PTI.
The air quality in north India is expected to deteriorate further from November to February due to several factors such as stubble burning, festive fireworks and low wind speed conditions which lead to an uptick in vehicular and industrial pollution being trapped in the lower atmosphere.
"In view of this evidence, high levels of PM2.5 in Delhi may lead to a higher number of COVID-19 cases," Travalgo added.
India has the world's second-highest caseload of over 7.9 million and the third-highest death toll with more than 115,000 from the novel coronavirus .
The National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has warned that Delhi is likely to report around 15,000 COVID-19 cases daily in winter because of the prevalence of respiratory illnesses during this season that worsen the symptoms of the disease.
On Sunday, the National Capital recorded 4,136 fresh COVID-19 cases, the highest single-day spike in 38 days.
DJ Christopher, head of pulmonary medicine at the Christian Medical College in Tamil Nadu, noted that the increased severe form of COVID-19 among patients would lead to an increased ICU hospitalisations, thereby increasing the burden of the healthcare system.
"The lung is the gateway to the body and takes the first impact from inhaled pollutants. It causes an inflammatory response which damages the lung and makes it more susceptible to infections," Christopher told PTI.
The 480 new fatalities include 112 from Maharashtra, 60fromWest Bengal,33 from Delhi,32 from Karnataka, 31 from Tamil Nadu and 28 from Uttar Pradesh.
A total of 1,19,014 deaths have been reported so far in the country, including 43,264 from Maharashtra, followed by 10,924 from Tamil Nadu, 10,905 from Karnataka, 6,882 from Uttar Pradesh, 6,587 from Andhra Pradesh, 6,487 from West Bengal, 6,258 from Delhi, 4,117 from Punjab and 3,686 from Gujarat.
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