In reply to a query raised in the Parliament, the Centre stated on Wednesday that 10 states accounted for almost 75 per cent of cases in India. This metric, in addition to the large outbreaks reported in certain districts swelling up the numbers, suggested that the coronavirus is still limited in the breadth of its spread, the Parliament was informed. Minister of State for Health Ashwini Choubey also cited the recent national seroprevalence results— a total of 24,000 samples from 71 districts across the country were tested for IgG antibodies against SARS-CoV-2 in May, and found to be less than one per cent—as proof of the low spread of the virus. Smaller serosurveys conducted in Delhi, Ahmedabad, Indore, Chennai, Mumbai and Pune had found seven to 28 per cent seroprevalence.
The Union government has always held that the total number of virus cases in the country was not a reliable indicator and that the overall number of cases and deaths per million population is low compared to similarly affected countries. Choubey had earlier said that the current phase of the pandemic in India is on multiple trajectories across urban and semi-urban areas of the country. The epidemic curve of any pandemic goes through an ascending, peaking and descending phase, he said.
As of Wednesday, India's COVID-19 caseload mounted to 56,46,010, with 83,347 infections being reported in a day. The death toll climbed to 90,020, with 1,085 people succumbing to the disease in 24 hours.
What state numbers tell us
10 states account for over three-quarters of the active coronavirus cases nationally. Sixty districts out of more than 700 districts across the country, and that too in just seven states, have a high load of cases, and are therefore a cause of concern.
Maharashtra: 2,97,866 cases (29.47 per cent of total national numbers)
Karnataka: 98,583 cases (9.75 per cent of total)
Andhra Pradesh: 81,763 cases (8.09 per cent of total)
Uttar Pradesh: 66,874 cases ( 6.62 per cent of total)
Tamil Nadu: 46,453 cases (4.60 per cent of total)
Kerala: 37,535 cases (3.71 per cent of total)
Chhattisgarh: 37,489 cases (3.7 per cent of total)
Odisha: 33,202 cases (3.28 per cent of total)
Delhi: 32,064 cases (3.17 per cent of total)
Telangana: 30,573 cases (3.02 per cent of total)
The Centre highlighted areas of optimism. The country's testing capacity has surged to more than 12 lakh tests daily. Fourteen states and Union Territories, including Gujarat, Odisha, Punjab, Uttarakhand, Assam, Haryana and Tripura, have demonstrated better COVID-19 response with higher tests per million and commensurate lower positivity rate than the national average, the Union health ministry said.
India is conducting COVID-19 tests at a rate of 875 per million population per day, which is more than six times the figure recommended by the WHO, according to data provided in Lok Sabha. The World Health Organisation (WHO) has recommended testing of 0.14 samples per day per 1,000 population or 140 tests per day per million population.
India's total tests for detection of COVID-19 has reached over 6.6 crore and tests per million have risen to 48,028 as on date, with the national cumulative positivity rate being recorded at 8.52 per cent, according to the ministry data. "A high level of testing leads to early identification of positive cases. As evidence has revealed, eventually the positivity rate will fall. The national cumulative positivity rate is 8.52 per cent and tests per million stand at 48,028 today," it said.
Meeting with prime minister
Prime Minister Narendra Modi had, on Wednesday, held a meeting with chief ministers of seven 'high-burden' states which accounted for 63 per cent of active cases, 65.5 per cent of the total confirmed cases and 77 per cent of the total deaths. He told the chief ministers of Maharashtra, Delhi, Punjab, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Uttar Pradesh to press on with full strength in opening economic activities alongside fighting the coronavirus pandemic. PM Modi suggested that they they now focus on "micro-containment zones" to curb the disease.
The prime minister also questioned the efficacy of one or two-day local lockdowns imposed by certain states from time to time and asked them to reassess as to how effective they are in curbing the disease. "Is it that this is creating difficulties in the resumption of economic activities in your states? This is my request that all states consider it seriously," he said. Several states, including West Bengal and Punjab, have time to time imposed local lockdowns to contain the virus spread.
With major festivals like Durga Puja and Diwali approaching in the next couple of months, Modi asked states to promote COVID-appropriate festivities, as he observed that the battle against the pandemic is far from over.
-Inputs from PTI