New Delhi: India registered 1,300 fresh COVID-19 cases in the last 24 hours. This brings the total number of active cases in the country to 7,605, representing 0.02 per cent. Experts are suggesting that the rising COVID-19 cases could be attributed to a new XBB.1.16 variant.
The daily positivity rate is 1.46 per cent and the weekly positivity rate is pegged at 1.08 per cent. With a surge in SARS-CoV-2 infection, Prime Minister Narender Modi chaired a high-level review meeting on March 22 which was attended by senior government officials.
During the meeting, the Prime Minister said COVID-19 in India is ‘far from over’ and called for the need to monitor the status of active cases across the country on a day-to-day basis. The purpose of the review meeting was to evaluate the infrastructure and logistics for healthcare readiness as well as the progress of the immunisation campaign.
India has administered 220.65 crore total vaccine doses (95.20 crore second doses and 22.86 crore precaution doses) of the COVID-19 vaccine so far under the nationwide vaccination drive. As per a health bulletin issued by the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW), 7,530 doses were administered in the last 24 hours.
Also present at the meeting, Rajesh Bhushan, Union Health Secretary, gave a detailed presentation on the state of affairs. He stated that the country was experiencing a slight increase in infections, with an average daily case count of 888 cases and a weekly positivity rate of 0.98 per cent in the week ending March 22.
A total of 92.06 crore COVID-19 tests have been conducted so far, including 89,078 tests in the last 24 hours.
In addition, 718 recoveries were reported in the last 24 hours, bringing the total number of recoveries to 4,41,60,997. The recovery rate currently stands at 98.79 per cent. Earlier, the Health Ministry had also raised the alarm about rising COVID-19 cases in six states.
Terming XBB.1.16 as the ‘new kid on the block’, Dr Randeep Guleria, Former Director, All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), Delhi urged people not to panic as the new variant is neither causing casualties nor showing signs of severe illness among people.
Dr Guleria said that the virus has stabilised a little bit, and is not changing as rapidly as it did in the past. Dr Guleria reiterated not to worry even after seeing a surge in infections, as long as the situation doesn’t result in hospitalisations and deaths.
In his meeting, the Prime Minister emphasised the importance of wearing masks when visiting crowded places, particularly for the elderly and those with co-morbidities. He further stressed following the COVID-appropriate behaviour and advised to focus on the five-fold strategy of test-track-treat-vaccine and COVID-appropriate behaviour.
To facilitate the timely tracking of more recent variations, PM Modi also gave officials instructions to improve whole genome sequencing of COVID-positive samples. A prompt reaction should be ready in case the circumstance arises.