NEW DELHI: The coronavirus situation continues to be a cause for concern in India, with daily cases climbing to a 30-day high of 16,752 on Sunday. The surge comes at a time when India is gearing up for the second phase of its vaccination drive, which will cover people over the age of 60 and those above 45 with comorbid conditions.
Here's understanding the Covid surge in India ...
Six states leading the rise
The union health ministry has said that six states – Maharashtra, Kerala, Punjab, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Gujarat – are behind the current Covid surge in India and account for almost 86% of the new cases.
Maharashtra continues to report the highest daily new cases at 8,623, followed by Kerala with 3,792 while Punjab with 593 new cases.
Amid the continuous rise in cases, Maharashtra's Pune has decided to extend the night curfew till March 14.
MP, Haryana display upward trajectory
Besides the six states, Madhya Pradesh and Haryana have also been exhibiting a spike in daily new cases.
The cabinet secretary chaired a high-level review meeting on Saturday with the states/UTs exhibiting a surge in cases including Telangana, Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh, MP, Gujarat, Punjab, J&K and West Bengal.
The cabinet secretary reiterated that states need to maintain a continued rigorous vigil in terms of containing the spread and not squander away the gains of the collective hard work of the last year.
The states were also advised not to lower their guard, enforce Covid norms and deal firmly with violations.
"Need for effective testing, comprehensive tracking, prompt isolation of positive cases and quick quarantine of close contacts were also strongly emphasized," the health ministry said in a statement.
Centre deploys high-level teams
The Centre has also deputed high-level multi-disciplinary teams to Kerala, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, Chhattisgarh, Punjab, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat and Jammu and Kashmir to ascertain reasons for the surge.
The health ministry said that the teams will coordinate with the respective state health departments in Covid-19 control and containment measures.
No new deaths in 19 states/UTs
On the positive side, the ministry said that as many as 19 states/UTs did not report any deaths related to Covid-19 in the last 24 hours.
These are Uttar Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, J&K, Odisha, Goa, Chandigarh, Himachal Pradesh, Assam, Lakshadweep, Manipur, Sikkim, Ladakh (UT), Mizoram, Meghalaya, Tripura, Nagaland, A&N Islands, Dadra and Nagar Haveli, Daman and Diu and Arunachal Pradesh.
'3rd wave to be more dangerous'
Amid the latest surge in cases, Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) Director General Shekhar C Mande on Sunday warned that the Covid-19 crisis in India was far from over and allowing a "third wave" by lowering our guard is fraught with grave consequences.
The expert clarified that India is nowhere near achieving herd immunity and as such people should continue to wear masks and maintain social distancing and hand hygiene.
Cautioning the people and the scientific community against allowing "complacency to set in," he warned that a third wave would precipitate a far more dangerous situation than the challenge the country had faced so far.
All set for second phase of vaccination
Meanwhile, India is expanding its Covid-19 vaccination drive from March 1 as it gears up to provide jabs to people over the age of 60 or those above 45 with certain illnesses.
A total of 1,43,01,266 vaccine doses have been administered so far, covering healthcare and frontline workers.
These include 24,56,191 beneficiaries who have been fully vaccinated, i.e. have received both doses of vaccines.
To ramp up the Covid-19 vaccination capacity, around 10,000 private hospitals under Ayushman Bharat PMJAY and more than 600 private hospitals under the Central Government Health Scheme will be utilized.
The health ministry said that other private hospitals empaneled under the state government health insurance scheme can also participate in the vaccination drive.