India's COVID-19 count crosses 56 lakh as 83,347 more test positive; Union minister Suresh Angadi dies of infection

India's coronavirus case count on Wednesday surged to 56,46,010 with 83,347 more testing positive since 8 am on Tuesday while the toll climbed to 90,020 with 1,085 more fatalities, according to the Union health ministry

FP Staff September 24, 2020 00:01:37 IST
India's COVID-19 count crosses 56 lakh as 83,347 more test positive; Union minister Suresh Angadi dies of infection

Representational Image. AP

As India's coronavirus case count crossed 56 lakh on Wednesday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that only 60 high caseload districts across seven states were a cause of concern.

The prime minister made the remarks during a virtual meeting with the chief minister and representatives of seven worst-affected states, which was also attended by Union Health Minister Harsh Vardha and Home Minister Amit Shah.

MoS Railways Suresh Angadi dies of COVID-19

Minister of State for Railways and Karnataka BJP MP Suresh Angadi passed away at the AIIMS Trauma Centre in Delhi, days after he tested positive for COVID-19.

A fourth-term MP from Belagavi, Angadi is the first Union minister to have died of coronavirus. At least six MLAs and three MPs have earlier succumbed to it. Former President Pranab Mukherjee, who died on 31 August, was also diagnosed COVID-19 positive.

Angadi had on 11 September announced on the microblogging site Twitter that he had tested positive for the disease. The MP had requested all those who came in close contact with him over the last few days to monitor their health and get tested in case of any symptoms.

Condolences poured in from political leaders,  including from Modi, who remembered Anagadi as an" exceptional Karyakarta, dedicated MP and an effective minister".

India reports 83,347 new cases, 1,085 deaths in 24 hrs

India's coronavirus case count on Wednesday surged to 56,46,010 with 83,347 more testing positive since 8 am on Tuesday while the toll climbed to 90,020 with 1,085 more fatalities, according to the Union health ministry. The COVID-19 casefatality rate dropped to 1.59 percent.

The ministry's data also showed that the national recovery rate stood at 81.25 percent, with 89,746 more recuperating from the viral infection.

The total number of recoveries in the country has reached 45,87,613 and there are now 9,68,377active cases,  comprising 17.15 percent of the total caseload, the data showed.

An official statement of 22 September said that more than 63 percent of the active cases in the country were concentrated in seven states — Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Uttar Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Delhi and Punjab. These states also accounted for 65.5 percent of the total confirmed cases and 77 percent of the total COVID-19 fatalities, the statement had said.

Focus on micro-containment zones, PM tells states

During a review meeting attended by the chief ministers and health ministers of these seven states, the prime minister suggested that micro-containment zones were the way forward, as this strategy would help not only in curbing infections but also enable states to carry on normal activities.

Modi stressed that the nationwide lockdown had been very beneficial and asked the states to proceed full steam with the opening up of economic activities.

The prime minister asked the states to seriously reconsider the strategy of imposing lockdown for a day or two, asking if this is what created difficulties in the resumption of economic activities.

Several states, including West Bengal and Punjab, have from time to time imposed localised lockdowns of varying duration to contain the spread of the infection.

The prime minister told states to further enhance their focus on effective testing, tracing, treatment, and surveillance. Pitching for the need for effective messaging, Modi said that most COVID-19 patients did not show any symptoms and this caused people to wonder if testing was wrong. Clear messaging is also necessary as some people even underestimate the seriousness of the disease.

Modi also suggested to the chief ministers to draft a one-week programme to interact directly with officials in a few blocks of the 60 districts worst affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

The Centre told Karnataka to concentrate more on nine districts where the most number of COVID-19 deaths have been recorded, even as the state said an increase in the number of tests was helping it to bring down positivity and case fatality rates steadily.

A statement by the Karnataka Chief Minister's Office said the Centre stated that Karnataka has been conducting tests in a scientific way, and asked it to increase surveillance and RT-PCR tests threefold.

Amid apprehensions over shortage of medical oxygen due to rising cases, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh urged the prime minister to direct for urgent steps to be taken to ensure an adequate supply of medical oxygen from other states.

The chief minister also sought Rs 200 crore that the state government had requested as the next tranche of the central aid in the fight against the disease.

Modi expressed confidence that Punjab will be able to reduce the positivity rate to less than 5 per cent and bring down the coronavirus fatality rate, a statement said.

Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray said he was confident that the recently launched "My family, My responsibility" campaign would strengthen the fight against COVID-19 in the state which has recorded more than 12 lakh cases so far.

Thackeray told the prime minister his government was in the process of setting up tele-ICU system and post COVID care centres in rural areas of Maharashtra.

Modi suggested appointing dedicated teams for 20 districts which have a high prevalence of  COVID-19, a statement released by the CMO said. "If the virus spread is controlled in these 20 districts, the national figure would see an impact," the statement quoted Modi as saying.

The prime minister also stressed on the importance of wearing masks and said that it has to be ensured that medicines move unhindered from one state to another.

CSIR to collaborate with Mylan 

In another development, the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) said it will collaborate with Mylan Laboratories Limited to identify potential therapies for COVID-19.

A series of clinical trials will be conducted towards new and innovative solutions to manage the COVID-19 pandemic in India as part of this collaboration.

The first of the clinical trials to be rolled out is a multiple-arm phase 3 study that will be conducted in adult patients with mild to moderate COVID-19 at risk of complications, it said.

The application for clinical trials has been submitted to the Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI) for regulatory approval.

Bharat Bitotech signs deal with Washington University

Bharat Biotech inked a licensing agreement with Washington University School of Medicine in St Louis, US for a novel "chimp-adenovirus", single-dose intranasal vaccine for COVID-19.

According to a press release issued by the Hydeabad-based vaccine maker, Bharat Biotech owns the rights to distribute the vaccine in all markets except the US, Japan and Europe.

While the Phase I trial will take place in St Louis University's Vaccine and Treatment Evaluation Unit, Bharat Biotech, upon obtaining the required regulatory approval, will pursue further stages of clinical trials in India and undertake large scale manufacture of the vaccine at its GMP facility in Genome Valley, it said.

The company envisions to scale up this vaccine to one billion doses, translating to an equal number of individuals vaccinated under a single dose regimen.

An intranasal vaccine will not only be simple to administer but will also reduce the use of medical consumables such as needles, syringes, etc.,  thus significantly impacting the overall cost of a vaccination drive, it said.

With inputs from PTI

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