While the daily case count has remained over 2,000 since May 2 — it was 2,573 (83 deaths) on May 4; 2,487 (73 deaths) on May 3; and 2,411 (71 deaths) on May 2 — the last 24 hours have seen a sharp spike.
Health Ministry officials attributed this to inclusion of pending data from West Bengal, which reported 296 cases and 98 deaths in the last 24 hours.
Among the other states that reported a sharp rise in cases on Tuesday were Maharashtra (1,567 new cases), Tamil Nadu (527), Gujarat (376), and Delhi (349).
While the third phase of the nationwide lockdown is scheduled to end on May 17, Telangana has become the first state to extend it until May 29. Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao said the state had achieved good control and it was now time to flatten the curve, for which the lockdown would have to continue.
On Tuesday, 11 new cases were reported in the state (all from Hyderabad), taking its tally to 1,096 cases. While no deaths were reported in the last 24 hours, the state’s total death toll is 29.
The total number of Covid-19 cases in the country has now gone up to 46,711, including 1,583 deaths and 13,160 recoveries.
“West Bengal had not reported cases and deaths since May 1. We realised this during data analysis and we persuaded them to share it. That is why the number of deaths in the state has suddenly gone up from 35 to 133. The surge is not because of easing of the lockdown. The effect of that will take a week to reflect,” said an official.
“We are dealing with an infectious disease, so timely reporting of cases and their management is crucial. This gap was noted in some states where, after due persuasion, it is now being addressed. At the level of the state, it is important that on the basis of cases reported, contact tracing, active case search and clinical management of cases is implemented,” Health Ministry Joint Secretary Lav Agarwal said at the daily briefing.
Responding to a question on why the daily count was increasing, Agarwal had said on Monday that “infectious diseases spread in geometric progression”. He reiterated this on Tuesday, adding that “we do need to get to a level where day-to-day increase is not in geometric progression and the number of cases added daily is less than that, and subsequently to a level when we can increase the doubling rate much higher so that cases remain stable. That is when we (will) see flattening of the curve.”
Agarwal reiterated that the lockdown has yielded “very positive results”. “We started with a doubling time of 3.4 days and now we are at 12 days. However, this momentum has to be sustained,” he said.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Narendra Modi reviewed the status of India’s efforts in vaccine development, drug discovery, diagnosis and testing.
“In diagnosis and testing, several academic research institutions and start-ups have developed new tests, both for the RT-PCR approach and for the antibody detection… The problem of importing reagents for testing has been addressed by consortia of Indian start-ups and industry meeting current requirements,” an official release said.
Union Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan chaired the 14th meeting of the Group of Ministers (GoM), which reviewed the availability of Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs), masks, ventilators, drugs and other essential equipment. The performance, impact and effectiveness of Aarogya Setu app was also reviewed.
The Health Ministry issued additional guidelines for rational use of PPEs. It also asked states to ensure that both government and private hospitals continue to provide services like immunisation, dialysis, cancer treatment, blood donation, maternal-child healthcare etc, as per the easing of restrictions in various zones.
Punya Salila Srivastava, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Home Affairs, reiterated that the guidelines for workplaces include the liability of the company head if any employee fails to download the Aarogya Setu app. “Offices have to make available adequate masks, sanitisers etc. Companies have to ensure social distancing, enough gap between shifts… registration of all on Aarogya Setu app is responsibility of the institution,” she said.
With ENS, Hyderabad