COVID-19 tally rises by 69,652; sero-surveys show 29.1% of Delhi, 27.7% of Punjab exposed to virus
In Punjab, the prevalence of COVID-19 antibodies was highest at 40 percent in Amritsar district, followed by 35.6 percent in Ludhiana, and 33.2 percent in SAS Nagar
India's COVID-19 caseload crossed 28 lakh with a single-day spike of 69,652 infections, while the recovery rate reached 73.91 percent with a total of 20,96,664 recoveries, according to the Health Ministry data.
The total casesload mounted to 28,36,925 on Thursday, while the toll from the virus rose to 53,866 with 977 new fatalities being reported in a day, the health ministry added. In the meanwhile, the case fatality rate has declined to 1.90 percent.
Of the total, there are 6,86,395 active cases in the country, which is 24.20 percent of the caseload. India's COVID-19 tally had crossed 20 lakh on 7 August.
According to the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), a cumulative total of 3,26,61,252 samples have been tested up to 19 August, with 9,18,470 samples being tested on Wednesday. With constantly increasing testing numbers, there has been a commensurate fall in the positivity rate, the ministry said.
"Although higher number of tests will push the positivity rate initially, but as the experience from several states and UTs has amply depicted, it will eventually lower when combined with other measures such as prompt isolation, effective tracking and timely clinical management," it stated.
The health ministry added that only 0.28 percent patients are on ventilator support. Additionally, 1.92 percent are in ICU and 2.62 percent are on oxygen support.
Gajendra Singh Shekhawat tests COVID-19 positive
"I underwent a coronavirus test after developing symptoms and the report has come positive. I am getting hospitalised on the advice of doctors. I request all who have come in my contact in the past days to isolate themselves and get tested," Shekhawat tweeted in Hindi.
The minister had held a meeting on the Sutlej Yamuna Link (SYL) on Thursday. While Punjab chief minister Amarinder Singh attended the meeting virtually, his Haryana counterpart ML Khattar was physically present with Shekhawat and his deputy in the ministry, Rattan Lal Kataria, as well as senior officials.
Kataria was also present for another meeting alongside Shekhawat in a virtual conference with Tamil Nadu chief minister EK Palaniswami.
Meanwhile, Khattar tested negative for COVID-19 on Thursday, but has decided to go into home quarantine for the next three days as a precautionary measure. Khattar underwent the coronavirus test on Wednesday.
Punjab extends weekend lockdown amid surge in cases
Amid rising coronavirus cases, the Punjab chief minister ordered a series of emergency measures, including extension of weekend lockdown, with daily night curfew from 7 pm to 5 am in all 167 cities and towns in the state from Friday.
Singh also ordered a total ban on all gatherings except weddings and funerals across the state till 31 August.
The government and private offices will work at 50 percent capacity till the end of this month, as per the directives issued by the chief minister.
Punjab has been witnessing a surge in COVID-19 cases and deaths for the last several days.
Meanwhile, the state's first exclusive sero survey conducted in five containment zones showed a prevalence of antibodies against SARS-CoV-2 virus in 27.7 percent people. The survey was conducted from 1 to 17 August among a systematically selected random sample population of 1,250 people.
There were earlier surveys, but they were more generalised and conducted by the state government in coordination with the ICMR, according to a government statement.
"A total of 27.7 percent of the people in Punjab's containment zones are found to be positive for COVID-19 antibodies, indicating that they have already been infected and have recovered from the coronavirus ," the findings said.
The findings showed the prevalence of SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) antibodies to be the highest at 40 percent in the containment zones in Amritsar district, followed by 35.6 percent in Ludhiana, 33.2 percent in SAS Nagar, 19.2 percent in Patiala and 10.8 percent in Jalandhar district.
Latest sero-survey in Delhi shows antibodies in 29.1% people
Delhi health minister Satyendar Jain said that 15,000 representative samples were taken between 1 and 7 August from 11 districts, and the next exercise will begin from 1 September.
"In the previous survey, it was found that over 22 percent people had developed antibodies. Now, the August survey shows it is 29.1 percent, meaning they had got infected and recovered," Jain said.
The minister also said that prevalence of antibodies found in males was 28.3 percent, and in females 32.2 percent in the latest survey.
The previous sero-prevalance survey done from 27 June to 10 July by the Delhi government in association with the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), had used 21,387 samples and found that around 23 percent of the people surveyed had an exposure to the novel coronavirus .
"The rise, rather than the exponential rise, is not there. So, people are taking safety precautions it seems. But, we cannot afford to be be complacent and lower our guard, even though positivity rate at present is 7 percent," Jain said.
The exercise was undertaken in the first week of August for a comprehensive assessment of the COVID-19 situation in Delhi and to formulate strategies based on its findings.
About 15,000 samples were collected as part of this exercise, spanning different areas and age groups, gender and economic class, he said.
'Malaysia strain' no cause for concern, say scientists
The mutant form of the novel coronavirus reported from Malaysia as being "10 times more infectious" is not a concern for India as it is widely prevalent in the country and isn't any more virulent than the strain originating in Wuhan, say scientists.
The D614G strain of the virus was discovered in Malaysia from a cluster, including a restaurant owner returning from India, Malaysia's director general of health said in a Facebook post this week.
His assertion that it was "found to be 10 times more infectious and is easily spread by an individual super spreader" created a flutter but scientists dispelled fears and said there is nothing to worry about.
According to virologist Upasana Ray, the mutation may have just been reported in Malaysia but is not new for the world.
"We saw it happening in April and it eventually dominated many countries. It is new for Malaysia but is not a new mutation," the senior scientist at Kolkata's CSIR-Indian Institute of Chemical Biology told PTI.
While some reports claim the mutation is capable of enhancing the infectivity of the virus, this is not well established and also does not necessarily indicate more virulence or harmfulness of the disease.
State-wise COVID-19 cases and deaths
Maharashtra, Punjab, Gujarat, Meghalaya, and Madhya Pradesh were among states that reported their highest single-day spike in COVID-19 cases on Thursday.
While 14,492 new cases were reported in Maharashtra, taking its total to 6,43,289, Punjab reported 1,741 new cases, taking the tally to 37,824 in the state.
Meghalaya on Thursday also recorded the highest single-day jump of coronavirus infections when 126 persons tested positive.
Tamil Nadu recorded 5,986 new cases on Thursday.
Of the 977 fresh deaths on Thursday, 346 are from Maharashtra, 126 from Karnataka, 116 from Tamil Nadu, 86 from Andhra Pradesh, 53 each from Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal, 23 from Punjab, 18 from Madhya Pradesh, 17 from Gujarat, 15 from Jharkhand, 14 from Uttarakhand, 12 from Rajasthan and 11 each from Bihar and Jammu and Kashmir.
Ten fatalities each have been reported from Assam, Haryana, Odisha and Telangana, nine from Delhi, eight from Goa, seven from Kerala, six from Puducherry, three from Chhattisgarh while Sikkim, Chandigarh and Ladakh have registered one fatality each.
Of the total 53,866 deaths, Maharashtra has reported the maximum at 21,033, followed by 6,123 in Tamil Nadu, 4,327 in Karnataka, 4,235 in Delhi, 2,906 in Andhra Pradesh, 2,837 in Gujarat, 2,638 in Uttar Pradesh, 2,581 in West Bengal and 1,159 in Madhya Pradesh.
So far, 921 people have died of COVID-19 each in Punjab, 910 in Rajasthan, 729 in Telangana, 572 in Jammu and Kashmir, 567 in Haryana, 487 in Bihar, 372 in Odisha, 277 in Jharkhand, 213 in Assam, 182 in Kerala and 178 in Uttarakhand.
The health ministry stressed that more than 70 percent of the deaths occurred due to co-morbidities.
With inputs from agencies
Maharashtra's case recovery rate stands at 97.32 percent and the fatality rate is 2.12 percent, the department said
India logs 16,862 new COVID-19 cases, 379 deaths in past 24 hours; active infections lowest in 216 days
The national COVID-19 recovery rate is at 98.07 percent, the highest since March 2020, according to the health ministry
Maharashtra witnessed a dip in daily COVID-19 cases and also fatalities as compared to Sunday, when it had registered 1,715 infections and 29 deaths