COVID-19: PM, Vardhan to hold meetings with states as India records highest single-day rise of 1.03 lakh new cases

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New Delhi, Apr 5 (PTI) As India recorded the highest single-day rise of 1.03 lakh new COVID-19 cases, the Centre has convened another round of meetings with chief ministers and state health ministers over the next three days amid growing calls on Monday to open up the vaccination drive against the disease to all age groups.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will interact with chief ministers on Thursday to discuss the COVID-19 situation and the ongoing vaccination drive, sources said. It was for the first time on Monday that COVID infections jumped by over one lakh since the first case was detected in the country on January 30 last year.

The prime minister's last interaction with chief ministers was on March 17 during which he had expressed concern over the rise in COVID-19 cases in parts of the country and called for 'quick and decisive' steps to check the 'emerging second peak'.

Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan will on Tuesday hold a meeting with health ministers of 11 states that have been witnessing a surge in cases to review the situation there.

The 11 states are Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh, Delhi, Gujarat, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Punjab and Rajasthan.

The daily rise in COVID-19 cases in India crossed the grim milestone of one lakh from 20,000 infections in just 25 days, unlike last year when it took 76 days for daily cases to reach the then peak of 97,894 on September 17, reflecting the speed at which the virus is spreading.

India recorded an all-time high of 1,03,558 single day new coronavirus infections pushing the nationwide tally to 1,25,89,067, according to the Union Health Ministry data on Monday.The death toll increased to 1,65,101 with 478 daily new fatalities, it said.

Besides imposing fresh curbs over the last few days, several states including Maharashtra, Punjab and Delhi have announced closure of schools or suspended classes briefly till the COVID-19 situation is further reviewed.

While a few states like Delhi, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu have announced closure of schools for an indefinite period, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Bihar and Punjab among others have suspended classes for a brief period. Schools have been directed to impart education through online classes.

Maharashtra has reported the highest daily new cases at 57,074 (55.11 per cent). It is followed by Chhattisgarh with 5,250 while Karnataka reported 4,553 new cases.

Eight states including Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh, Karnataka, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi, Tamil Nadu, Madhya Pradesh and Punjab have shown a steep rise in the daily new cases accounting for 81.90 per cent of the new cases reported in a span of 24 hours, the Union Health Ministry said.

The daily rise in cases fell below 30,000 since December 14 (27,071) and the lowest daily increase of 8,635 infections was reported on February 2 this year.

India's total active caseload has reached 7,41,830 and now comprises 5.89 per cent of the country's total infection while the national COVID-19 recovery rate has further dropped to 92.80 per cent, the data showed.

A net increase of 50,233 cases has been recorded in the total active caseload in a span of 24 hours, it added.

With Delhi witnessing a surge in coronavirus cases, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal wrote to Prime Minister Modi requesting him to relax the norms for opening vaccination centres and lift the age criterion for getting inoculated. States like Karnataka, Punjab and Rajasthan have earlier batted for expanding the vaccination drive to cover all age groups.

At present, only people above 45 years of age are eligible to receive the COVID vaccine.

Kejriwal reiterated that the Delhi government can vaccinate all the residents of the city within three months if necessary permissions are granted by the Centre.

Delhi recorded 4,033 COVID cases on Sunday. On Monday, it registered 3,548 new cases.

'The increased transmission of Corona across the country has presented a new concern and challenge, we will have to move the vaccination campaign more rapidly,' Kejriwal wrote to the prime minister.

'If the rules for opening new centres are simplified and everyone is allowed to vaccinate, then the Delhi government will be able to vaccinate all Delhi residents in three months, Delhi government is fully prepared for it,' he said.

According to the Centre's instructions, vaccination centres can be set up only at hospitals or dispensaries.

'It is, therefore, requested that this condition be removed so that vaccination centres can be set up on large scale at schools, community centres, and other places. Delhi government will ensure that all necessary precautions are taken,' he said.

Further, he said vaccine should be made available to everyone by removing the age limit of 45 years and above.

Health Minister Satyendar Jain said Delhi is witnessing a fourth wave of the coronavirus pandemic and the testing capacity has been ramped up while micro-containment zones were being created where two or more cases are being reported.

The Mumbai Police issued prohibitory orders under section 144 of the CrPC banning the assembly of five or more people at public places in the city from 7 am to 8 pm from Monday to Friday till April 30. Mumbai had reported the highest 11,163 cases in a day on Sunday.

The order also imposed a night curfew on weekdays and a strict lockdown on weekends beginning from 8 pm on Friday till 7 am on Monday.

In Madhya Pradesh, a state health official said that COVID-19 cases rose 'abnormally' after March 14, adding the positivity rate jumped from 1.1 per cent in January end to 10.4 per cent in the last seven days.

He said the cases grew 'drastically' compared to the 'first peak' seen in September last year.

'The case positivity rate which was just 1.1 per cent (per 100 tests) during January-end climbed to 10.4 per cent in the last seven days. The number of cases grew abnormally high after March 14. The cases rose by around 15 per cent compared to February,' Mohammed Suleman, Additional Chief Secretary, Health, said in Bhopal.

He said MP had recorded the highest number of 2,607 cases in a day on September 19, 2020, which was thought to be the highest peak.

'However, we are reporting more than 3,300 cases now (in a day).' According to the WHO, the positivity rate should ideally remain below five per cent, he added.PTI PLB ASK KR GJS VIT ZA LAL GSN GSN GSN