New Delhi: COVID-19 infections and deaths continued to rise in the country, with 1,805 fresh cases reported in the last 24 hours, notified the Union Health Ministry. The daily COVID positivity rate is at an all-time high, standing at 3.19 per cent. On the other hand, the weekly positivity rate touched 1.39 per cent today.
As per experts, the rise in COVID cases is happening most likely due to the newly-detected COVID XBB 1.16 variant. The XBB 1.16 variant was first identified in January when two samples tested positive, and in February, a total of 59 samples were found. So far, 15 more samples of the variant have been detected. The number of COVID XBB 1.16 variant cases detected in India is the highest across the world. Experts believe that this new COVID variant is triggering a fifth wave of the pandemic.
Subsequently, Dr Mansukh Mandaviya, Union Health Minister had recently reassured that this surge in COVID cases is not a cause of panic, however, COVID appropriate measures should be stringently practised to prevent the situation from getting out of hand.
The active COVID-19 cases now amount to 0.02 per cent of the total COVID-19 infections in the country, and the national COVID-19 recovery rate stands at 98.79 per cent with 932 recoveries recorded in the last 24 hours, bringing the total number of recoveries to 4,41,64,815.
The Union Health Ministry updated that India’s active COVID caseload now stands at 10,300, owing to the 56,551 COVID tests conducted in the last 24 hours. A recent joint advisory by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, and the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) highlighted that the current testing levels are insufficient as compared to the standards prescribed by the World Health Organisation (WHO), ie 140 tests per million. Testing at the levels of districts and blocks also varies, with some states heavily relying on the less sensitive rapid antigen tests.
“Maintaining optimum testing for COVID-19 is critical. Ensure equitable distribution (with suitable modifications to address the emergence of a new cluster of COVID cases) across the states. This is especially important to identify any emerging hotspots and take pre-emptive steps to curb virus transmission,” the advisory stated. The ministry reported today that a total of 92.10 crores of COVID-19 tests have been conducted in India so far.
According to the ministry’s website, 220.65 crore doses of COVID vaccines (95.20 crore second doses and 22.86 crore precaution doses) have been administered in the country so far under the nationwide vaccination drive, out of which, 1,743 doses were administered in the last 24 hours.
In the spirit of Dr Mandaviya’s comments, the joint advisory had also notified that both public and private health facilities in all districts are expected to participate in a mock drill exercise aimed at taking stock of the availability of medicines, hospital beds, medical equipment and medical oxygen. The exact details of the mock drill are expected to be communicated to the states in a virtual meeting scheduled for today.