Addressing a press briefing, Secretary in the ministry Rajesh Bhushan said the country has recorded the highest number of COVID-19 recoveries in the world at over 56 lakh and conducted the second-highest number of tests at 8.10 crore.
“New recoveries have been more than the new cases over the last two weeks. New cases being reported in the last 14 days are below the previous high of 90,000 per day,” he said.
Bhushan further said the average daily COVID-19 positivity rate has declined from the 9.21 per cent recorded between September 16 and 22 to 6.82 per cent between September 30 and October 6.
“Average daily new cases of COVID-19 have declined from 84,179 registered from September 2 to September 8 to 77,113 recorded between September 30 and October 6,” he said.
Giving figures on the COVID-19 deaths, Bhushan said about 48 per cent of the fatalities in the country have been reported from 25 districts in eight states.
“Of these 25 districts, 15 are in Maharashtra alone, two each in Karnataka, West Bengal and Gujarat and one each in Tamil Nadu, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh and Andhra Pradesh,” he said, adding that the ministry is working with these states to bring down the COVID-19 case fatality rate there.
Ten states, including Maharashtra, Karnataka, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Uttar Pradesh, account for 77 per cent of the active coronavirus cases in the country, Bhushan said.
Asked if the country has crossed the peak, he said it is perhaps not right from the perspective of public health to predict peaks or declines based on mathematical models and that public health activities such as aggressive testing, contact-tracing, surveillance, implementing containment plans, along with non-pharmacological interventions like wearing masks, not spitting in public, maintaining social distancing and hand hygiene, will have to be continued.
“We have found at the national and the international level that when we start saying there is a decline, people become negligent and less cautious and we see a rise in the number of cases again.
“As we approach the festival season and winter, which is conducive for the spread of diseases such as influenza, we need to be extra cautious. We have told all the states to ensure an effective implementation of public health strategies in the fight against COVID-19,” Bhushan said.
Replying to a query, he said the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) has an agreement with an Indian commercial entity, which has approached the Indian regulator for clinical trials of its Sputnik V vaccine against COVID-19, and the latter has given some suggestions that need to be incorporated by it.
Analysing the trend of COVID-19 cases in different states, the official said in Maharashtra, 2.37 lakh cases were recorded on September 8, the number rose to 2.91 lakh on September 15 and then declined to 2.75 lakh on September 22, 2.65 lakh on September 29 and 2.52 lakh on October 6.
“It is too early to take a call on the trend of active COVID-19 cases in Maharashtra, whether the number is stabilising or not, we need to observe for more time,” he said.
In Karnataka, the number of cases has gone up (from 97,020 on September 8 to 1.15 lakh on October 6), while in Andhra Pradesh, a trend of definite decline can be seen (from 97,932 on September 8 to 51,060 on October 6). The most significant increase in the number of COVID-19 cases has been witnessed in Kerala (from 22,133 on September 8 to 84,958 on October 6), Bhushan said, adding that a surge was seen during Onam.
In Uttar Pradesh, the number of cases was 62,144 on September 8, which declined to 45,000 on October 6. In Tamil Nadu, the number of cases was 51,215 on September 8 and it declined to 45,881 on October 6.
The ministry is concentrating on these states and has come up with a special strategy on how to control the rising numbers of coronavirus cases as its target is to bring the case fatality rate below one per cent, Bhushan said.
Replying to another query regarding insurance claims for the frontline healthcare workers, he said an amount of Rs 50 lakh each has been paid to the families of 95 such workers, who lost their lives to COVID-19.
He added that 176 claims are being processed and in addition, there are 79 claims, which are yet to be received from various states.