Covid surge: Govt asks 8 states/UTs to act immediately

Amid sudden spike in Covid cases, Govt writes to 8 states/UTs for 'immediate action'

The letter was issued as the country reported a single-day rise of over 13,000 new Covid-19 cases after around 49 days and cases of Omicron variant increased to 961

On a day, Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkata witnessed a big surge in Covid numbers, the Union Health Ministry issued Covid alerts to eight states where 15 districts including Bengaluru Urban witnessed a sudden high surge in Covid-19 cases in the last two weeks as the number of fresh Covid-19 cases across the country crossed the 10,000-mark for the first time after 33 days.

Besides Karnataka, other states with rising Covid numbers are Maharashtra (Thane, Pune, Mumbai, Mumbai Suburban and Nagpur districts), Gujarat (Ahmedabad, Rajkot and Surat), Haryana (Gurugram), Delhi, Jharkhand (Ranchi), Tamil Nadu (Chennai) and West Bengal (Kolkata).

In his letter to the states on Thursday, Bhushan asked the state administration to set up containment and buffer zones, strengthen hospital preparedness and increase testing in a focused manner with a gradual rise in the share of RT-PCR among the total number of tests.

The districts that saw a sudden and significant surge in the number of Covid cases in the last two weeks, were asked to take proactive action to ensure neither the transmission spreads nor the mortality increases due to late detection.

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“On average, India reported more than 8,000 cases per day last week. From December 26 onwards, the country has been reporting 10,000 daily cases,” said Luv Aggarwal, Joint Secretary, Union Health Ministry. The number was 9,000 plus on Tuesday and rose to 13,154 on Wednesday.

Mumbai on Thursday reported 3,671 new cases, which is 46 per cent higher than Wednesday’s figure. After seven months, Delhi recorded more than 1,000 cases – 1,313, to be exact which is 42 per cent more than Wednesday – whereas Kolkata reported 101 per cent jump in the cases with 1090 new cases.

Among the states, the sharpest rise has been seen in Maharashtra, Delhi and Gujarat, according to the Union Health Ministry.

Maharashtra that was the ground zero of the epidemic during the first two waves saw a three times jump in caseload and positivity rate between the first and last weeks of December. The number of weekly cases doubled in the last two weeks.

Delhi too witnessed a five times rise in the number of weekly cases between the first and last week of December whereas, in Gujarat, the increase is nearly six times. Among the metro cities, Kolkata saw a doubling of the number of cases in the last two weeks.

Also Read | R-value exceeds 2 in Delhi, Mumbai; indicates faster spread of coronavirus: Study

“We are seeing an uptick in the number of new Covid-19 cases, which is a part of a global upsurge,” VK Paul, NITI Ayog member, said at a press conference here.

Whereas the government officials refrained from describing the rise as “third wave”, medical experts say this would be the beginning of a new wave driven by the Omicron variant.

“The Omicron wave is staring India in the eye. Expectedly so, as India is not an exception in the world,” said Bhramar Mukherjee, a bio-statistician at the University of Michigan, who is tracking the pandemic in India with her model.

Paul, Agarwal and ICMR director general Balram Bhargava stressed on behavioural factors like wearing the masks and maintaining social distance to halt the rising wave in its tracks. But when asked about election rallies in Uttar Pradesh and other states in complete violation of such norms, they skirted the question.

“It is in the domain of the Election Commission and it is not the right forum to take up this issue,” Paul said when asked about the rallies among rising cases.

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