While 18 states didn’t report any Covid-19 deaths in the last 24 hours and the national positivity rate — now at 5.22 per cent — has been showing a steady decline over the last 13 days, there is a spot of worry: five states have been reporting an upsurge in daily cases, the Union Health Ministry said on Saturday.
The rise in the number of cases in Kerala, Maharashtra, Punjab, Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh comes in the backdrop of five persons, who returned recently to India, being detected with the infectious Covid-19 variants found in South Africa and Brazil.
Over the last 24 hours, Maharashtra contributed the highest number of daily new cases in the country — 6,112, almost twice the 3,611 cases it reported a week ago, on February 14.
Amid the surge, neighbouring Karnataka issued an order on Saturday making it mandatory for people arriving from Maharashtra to be in possession of a negative RT-PCR report “that is not older than 72 hours” prior to arrival in the state. Earlier this week, Karnataka’s Health Department had issued a similar order for those arriving from Kerala.
Maharashtra has re-imposed strict restrictions in five of its districts — Amravati, Akola, Yavatmal, Buldana and Washim — with a “partial lockdown” in two of them. The Maharashtra government had said that one sample in Amaravati was detected with the E484K mutation that has been found in the fast spreading South African, UK and Brazilian variants.
The upsurge in cases in five states comes in the backdrop of infectious variants of the virus being reported. Though there is no evidence to link the new cases to the new variants, vigil is critical.
A similar upsurge has been reported in four other states.
Though Kerala’s 4,505 cases reported on Saturday are a drop from the numbers of a week ago (5,471 on February 14), the state’s high numbers are a cause of concern, sources said.
On February 14, Punjab reported 260 new cases and on Saturday, it reported 383 new cases. Madhya Pradesh, which reported 194 new cases on February 14, had 297 cases on Saturday. Chhattisgarh’s cases have gone up in the same period from 229 to 259.
The ministry’s data shows that five states account for 78.22 per cent of the new deaths: Maharashtra saw 44 casualties on Saturday, Kerala 15, Punjab 8, Tamil Nadu 7 and Karnataka 5 deaths.
The top five states in terms of number of active cases are: Kerala (60,087), Maharashtra (45,957), Karnataka (5,901), Tamil Nadu (4,147) and West Bengal (3,625).
On Tuesday, Dr V K Paul, Member, NITI Aayog, had said the emergence of the two variants in the country was a matter of concern. “This virus has not gone away. It is still affecting our population and can raise the number of cases. This is a concern….we already have a UK variant in our country. Hopefully, these variants will not cause a catastrophic situation in the country. But it just shows that vigil to contain these disease must continue,” Paul had said.
With inputs from Johnson T A in Bengaluru
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