With 94,372 new cases and 1,114 deaths, India's tally crosses 47 lakh; vaccine by early 2021 possible, says Harsh Vardhan
The total coronavirus cases in the country mounted to 47,54,356, while the toll climbed to 78,586 with 1,114 people succumbing to the infection, said the health ministry.
As India's COVID-19 case count soared to over 47 lakh with 94,372 new infections reported in 24 hours, Union health minister Harsh Vardhan on Sunday said a vaccine against the infection could likely be ready by early 2021.
Speaking during the virtual Sunday Samvad interaction, the health minister said the vaccine would be made available first to those who need it the most, irrespective of their capacity to pay.
Seeking to allay fears over the safety of such a vaccine, Vardhan said he would be happy to take the first dose if people had any "trust deficit".
Vardhan stated the government is taking full precautions in human trials of vaccines and the National Expert Group on Vaccine Administration for COVID-19 under the Chairmanship of Dr VK Paul, Member (Health), NITI Aayog, is drawing up a detailed strategy on how to immunize the majority of the population.
The Centre has directed all states and UTs to fix a reasonable price for COVID-19 treatment in private hospitals for making it affordable for the common man, a statement quoted the minister as saying.
Free coverage up to Rs 5 lakh for COVID-19 patients for those who are eligible under the Ayushman Bharat PMJAY package was announced, the statement noted.
Vardhan's remarks came on a day when Karnataka, Uttarakhand, and Punjab recorded record highs in daily cases. Karnataka logged 9,894 fresh infections — 3,479 from Bengaluru urban— while 2,628 more tested positive in Punjab. Maharashtra reported 416 deaths and 22,543 cases, while Andhra Pradesh's caseload touched 5.67 lakh with 9,536 more contracting the infection.
The total coronavirus cases in the country on Sunday mounted to 47,54,356, while the toll climbed to 78,586 with 1,114 people succumbing to the infection in a span of 24 hours, according to the health ministry's data updated at 8 am.
But the COVID-19 case fatality rate due to the coronavirus infection has further dropped to 1.65 percent, it said.
The recovery rate rose to 77.88 percent, with a total of 37,02,595 people recuperating from COVID-19 so far, the data showed. About 58 percent of the recovered cases were reported from Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Uttar Pradesh, the ministry said.
The same five states account for 60 percent of the 9,73,175 active cases in the country, it added. "Nearly 57 percent of the new cases are reported from five states," the ministry highlighted.
'Ensure adequate oxygen supply'
The health ministry urged seven states — Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Telangana, Gujarat, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh — to ensure adequate oxygen availability in all healthcare facilities.
Amid concerns over shortage of medical oxygen supply, the health ministry held a meeting with the DPIIT Secretary, Pharmaceuticals Secretary and the Health Secretaries and Industries Secretaries of seven states to discuss ways to ensure adequate oxygen availability in all healthcare facilities and unrestricted intra- and inter-state movement of oxygen.
The states — Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Telangana, Gujarat, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh— were advised to take measures such as ensuring timely payment of dues to manufacturers and suppliers, advance planning in hospitals and provision of green corridor for Liquid Medical Oxygen (LMO) Tankers within cities.
Centre issues post-COVID care guidelines
The Centre also issued a new management protocol for patients who have recovered from COVID-19. Calling for a holistic approach for follow up care and well-being of all post-COVID recovered patients, the health ministry said such patients must continue COVID appropriate behaviour, including use of masks, hand and respiratory hygiene, and physical distancing.
At the individual level, the protocol suggested drinking adequate amount of warm water (if not contra-indicated), taking immunity promoting AYUSH medicine prescribed by a qualified practitioner of AYUSH and to carry out household chores if health permits. It advised people to resume professional work in a graded manner.
Daily practice of yogasana, pranayama and meditation, as much as health permits or as prescribed, breathing exercises as prescribed by treating physician and daily morning or evening walk at a comfortable pace as tolerated were among other measures.
The protocol also called for self-health monitoring at home of temperature, blood pressure, blood sugar (especially, if diabetic), pulse oximetry etc (if medically advised).
However, the procedure is not meant to be seen as preventive or as a curative therapy, the ministry stressed. It also cautioned that the recovery period is likely to be longer for patients who suffered from a more severe form of the disease and for those with pre-existing illness.
Raghuvansh Prasad Singh passes away
Former Union minister Raghuvansh Prasad Singh died on Sunday morning while undergoing treatment in New Delhi's AIIMS. He was 74.
Singh, who had recently resigned from RJD, had fallen ill after developing post-COVID-19 complications. His conditioned worsened on Friday night and he was put on ventilator in the ICU.
Singh became breathless and developed other complications before breathing his last at 11 am, Kedar Yadav, a close associate of Singh told news agency PTI.
Uttarakhand, Karnataka see record jump
Meanwhile, states and UTs released daily updates of fresh COVID-19 infections and deaths. A record 1,637 people tested positive for COVID-19 in Uttarakhand, taking the state's infection tally to 31,973, while 12 more patients died.
Karnataka registered its biggest single-day spike of 9,894 new COVID-19 cases and 104 related fatalities, taking the total number of infections to 4,59,445 and the toll to 7,265, the state health department said. The day also saw 8,402 patients getting discharged
Of 9,894 fresh cases reported on Sunday, 3,479 cases were from Bengaluru urban alone.
Punjab too reported the highest single-day spike of 2,628 fresh COVID-19 cases, taking the infection tally to 79,679 in the state, while the death toll reached 2,356 with 68 more fatalities.
The total count of cases in Maharashtra rose to 10,60,308 with 22,543 new cases while the cumulative toll reached 29,531 with 416 deaths.
With inputs from PTI
Most of the cases have been reported from North 24 Parganas, Howrah, Kolkata, Hooghly, Murshidabad, South 24 Parganas, Jalpaiguri and Darjeeling districts
The active cases comprise 0.10 per cent of the total infections, while the national COVID-19 recovery rate increased to 98.71 per cent.
More than two years after being put in place amid the coronavirus pandemic, the fare caps were removed with effect from 31 August