India has logged 1,573 new coronavirus cases in the last 24 hours, taking the number of active cases have up to 10,981, according to the Union Health Ministry. With four COVID-19-related deaths in Kerala, the toll has increased to 5,30,841.
Meanwhile, the daily positivity rate has been recorded at 1.30 per cent and the weekly positivity rate stands at 1.47 per cent. The total tally of COVID-19 cases has been recorded at 4.47 crore (4,47,07, 525), the ministry said. The active cases now comprise 0.02 per cent of the total infections, while the national COVID-19 recovery rate has been recorded at 98.79 per cent, according to its website.
In other news, with COVID-19 cases on the rise, the Centre has asked states to be on alert and ensure preparedness for management of the viral disease. At a high-level meeting, the Union Health Secretary also asked states to ramp up testing with a higher proportion of RT-PCR tests and whole genome sequencing of the positive samples. According to the data provided by the Health Ministry, the number of COVID-19 cases reported each day on average has increased to 966 during the week ending March 23, from just 313 during the week ending March 3.
…Former Maharashtra Minister Chhagan Bhujbal Tests Positive
Former Maharashtra minister and senior Nationalist Congress Party leader Chhagan Bhujbal on Tuesday said he has tested positive for COVID-19, news agency PTI reported. Earlier, he had contracted the viral infection when the pandemic was at its peak.
The NCP leader shared on Twitter the news about his health. He was recently on a tour of Yeola, his assembly constituency in Nashik district. Bhujbal said he had a fever when he was returning to Nashik from Yeola. He underwent a test for coronavirus on Monday which returned positive. The NCP leader has appealed to all those who had come in contact with him in the past 2-3 days to go for COVID-19 tests if they have symptoms like fever, breathing difficulties, runny nose and a sore throat.
Nashik district on Tuesday reported 11 new cases, taking the overall infections in the district to 4,82,642, officials said.
…Maharashtra Urges Precautionary Doses Against Omicron
With the Omicron sub-variant XBB.1.16 causing yet another spurt in new COVID-19 cases, Maharashtra health authorities have appealed to the public to take precautionary doses. As many as 17.5 crore COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered across Maharashtra. However, to date, less than a crore have taken booster shots.
Dr Sachin Desai. Maharashtra immunization officer, told The Indian Express that time and again the authorities have urged the public across different age groups to complete the vaccination schedule.
Only 11 per cent of the target population of 4.7 crore in the 18-59 age group have taken the precautionary dose, while 30 per cent of the target population of 1.01 crore in the 60 years and above age group have got the booster shots.
Presently, over one lakh doses of the Covaxin vaccine are available in government centres. Due to the lack of demand, the production of the Covishield vaccine had been stopped by the Serum Institute of India. The state health authorities said that they were waiting for guidance from the Centre regarding the administration of Corbevax, which has been approved as a booster dose for adults who have been vaccinated with either Covaxin or Covishield vaccine.
Maharashtra has 2,212 active cases of COVID-19 infection and Pune leads among the districts with the most number of cases. According to a state health department report, there were 619 active cases of COVID-19 infection followed by 589 in Mumbai and 399 in Thane. Till date, there have been more than 81 lakh people who were infected with COVID-19 and 1.48 lakh who succumbed to the infection.
As a precautionary measure to identify any new strain of COVID-19, the positive samples are sent for Whole Genome Sequencing. Screening of international passengers arriving at Mumbai, Pune, and Nagpur airports had again commenced on December 24 last year and RT-PCR tests were done from at least 35,031 passengers. A total of 42 positive samples have been sent for genomic sequencing.
Meanwhile, Pune health chief Dr Bhagwan Pawar has also appealed to the public in the city to take their precautionary doses. According to the city immunisation officer Dr Suryakant Deokar, Covaxin vaccine doses are presently available across its 21 centres.