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New Delhi, Oct 27 (PTI) The COVID-19 pandemic in India is showing a declining trend, except for in two to three states, the government said on Tuesday while noting it is "particularly noteworthy" vis-a-vis some countries in the northern hemisphere where a severe increase in the intensity of the virus' spread is being seen.
The pandemic situation in the world is particularly concerning and it has been seen that countries of much greater economic capability with higher per capita income and a robust healthcare system can succumb to a second peak of infection, V K Paul, the NITI Aayog Member (Health), said at a press conference.
"This must be a lesson for all of us," said Paul, who also heads the National Task Force on COVID-19.
"We are very fortunate that our (COVID-19) trend is in the opposite direction. We are fortunate that today we are showing a decline in (coronavirus) pandemic, except in two or three states," he said.
This decline is particularly noteworthy because in other countries of the northern hemisphere there is a severe increase in the intensity of the pandemic, Paul added.
"We have to protect these gains through surveillance, contact tracing, containment measures, isolation and quarantine strategy as well as individual behaviours which reduce the spread of infection from one person to another," he stressed.
The pandemic has rebounded in several countries, largely in the northern hemisphere, and a third peak has hit the US, Paul said, adding, "Becoming a bit lax... slowing down surveillance and containment strategies also must be playing a role in this."
Stressing that the coronavirus pandemic is on a "downward trend and under control" in India, he warned that "we cannot become lax and have to stay vigilant".
Kerala, West Bengal and Delhi are proceeding towards a third peak. This is a matter of concern and there can be no complacency in following COVID-19-appropriate behaviour as more challenges will emerge in the coming days, Paul said.
"More festivals are ahead and wherever we have faltered in the last few days, it will show in the coming 10 to 12 days."
Paul stressed on continuing with the test, track, trace and treat strategy.
"Looking for a super-spreading event in the case of an individual positive case is an important area of our work and we are learning that super-spreading events happen when we are together not only in very large numbers but also in medium numbers. So, super-spreading events must be avoided," he said.
Union Health Ministry Secretary Rajesh Bhushan said states such as Kerala, West Bengal, Maharashtra, Karnataka and Delhi have reported a rise in the number COVID-19 cases during festivals and cautioned people to follow COVID-appropriate behaviour during festivities.
Around 58 per cent of the fresh COVID-19 deaths in the country were reported from Maharashtra, West Bengal, Delhi, Chhattisgarh and Karnataka, he said, adding 49.4 per cent of the fresh coronavirus cases in the same period were reported from Kerala (4,287) West Bengal (4,121), Maharashtra (3,645), Karnataka (3,130) and Delhi (2,832).
Bhushan also mentioned that Kerala has emerged as a leading contributor in new COVID-19 cases reported in a 24-hour period.
He also said the health ministry is in contact with all these states and central teams have been sent there.
"A few teams have returned after completing the task allotted. After analysing their report further actions will be taken in formulating new strategies to be adopted for these states," Bhushan said.
He further said a continuous decline in average daily new coronavirus cases has been observed and the figure has come down from 83,232 between September 23 and 29 to 49,909 for October 21-27.
"When we observe the number of new COVID-19 cases reported in the last 24 hours, it is only 36,470. However, the number of tests conducted during this period has not come down. If even after doing 11 lakh tests per day on an average, there is a decline in daily new cases. It surely is a very positive sign. Our number of tests per million population is more than 75,600," he pointed out.
"India's COVID-19 case fatality rate has declined from 1.77 per cent on September 1 to 1.50 per cent as on date. The recovery rate has increased from 76.94 per cent on September 1 to 90.62 per cent as on date," the official said.
It should be specifically noted that many states and Union Territories have case fatality rate below the national average of 1.50 per cent. There has also been a decline in average daily new deaths from 1,054 in September to 615 now, Bhushan said.
The health secretary said India has the highest COVID-19 recoveries in the world. Also, the country's number of cases as well as deaths per million population were among the lowest, he added.
"It took us 57 days to register a recovery of 10 lakhs from 1 lakhs, whereas, the latest 10 lakh recoveries have been achieved in just 13 days which is also a satisfactory sign," Bhushan said.
To a question over the BJP's election manifesto promising free coronavirus vaccine for everyone in Bihar, Paul said state governments have been urged to take a national approach towards engaging with companies and deciding the criteria for COVID-19 vaccination.
"In order to deliver the vaccine to priority groups, to the extent that we can foresee, there is absolutely no problem in terms of resources," he said. PTI PLB UZM NSD