India is faring better than many developed nations in all parameters of COVID-19, Union health minister Harsh Vardhan said on Tuesday as he highlighted the "continuously rising" recovery rate and "progressively falling" fatality rate in the country.
Vardhan's comments come on a day when daily COVID-19 cases in India dropped below 75,000 and less than 1,000 deaths were reported for the first time in nearly a month.
Vice-President M Venkaiah Naidu, who underwent a routine COVID-19 test, tested positive on Tuesday. Naidu is asymptomatic and has been advised to home quarantine, as per his official Twitter handle. His wife Usha Naidu has tested negative but is in self-isolation.
The total coronavirus cases in the country mounted to 61,45, 291 with 70,589 new infections, while the toll reached 96,318 after 776 people succumbed to the disease in the past 24 hours, the data updated at 8 am showed.
The total recoveries surged to 51,01,397 pushing the recovery rate to 83.01 percent, said Vardhan lauding efforts by the citizens and the government to curb the pandemic.
The health ministry said that the sustained high level of recoveries have led to a further widening of the gap between active and recovered cases.
"Recovered cases exceed the active cases by more than 41.5 lakh (41,53,831). The recovered cases are 5.38 times the active cases. The recoveries are consistently rising," the ministry underlined.
There are 9,47,576 active cases of coronavirus infection in the country presently, which is "merely" 15.42 percent of the total caseload and "is consistently declining".
The daily new recovered cases again exceeded the new infections, the ministry said.
Tamil Nadu extends lockdown till 31 Oct
The Tamil Nadu government on Tuesday extended the ongoing lockdown till 31 October with more relaxations and put on hold its earlier order permitting students from Classes 10 to 12 to voluntarily attend school from 1 October.
The government had earlier decided to allow students to go to school on voluntary basis to discuss their doubts with teachers. However, it rolled back the decision following opposition from parents who had expressed concerns due to the prevailing coronavirus situation.
On Tuesday, Tamil Nadu with 5,546 new COVID-19 cases, inched towards a tally of six lakh, while the toll moved closer to the 10,000 mark with 70 more fatalities. The state's recovery rate was above 90.50 percent while the mortality rate was at 1.60 percent
Sero-survey 2.0: 6.6% of populace may be exposed to virus
The Indian Council of Medical Research has released the findings of a second Sero-Survey conducted at the end of August to find out the prevalence of the virus in the general population. The survey, conducted in 70 districts across 21 states, shows that 6.6 percent of the total population could be exposed to the virus.
The prevalence of the virus is higher in urban areas. In urban slums, the exposure is 15.6 percent and in non-slum areas, the exposure is over 8 percent according to the survey.
The results imply that over 90 percent of India's population still remained susceptible to the virus, Dr Balram Bhargava, DG, ICMR told the media.
'India's Feluda cheaper, faster alternative to RT-PCR'
More accurate than a rapid antigen test and almost as quick, India's CRISPR Feluda COVID-19 test, which changes colour on detection of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, could be a cheaper, faster and simpler alternative to an RT-PCR diagnosis, say scientists.
Named after Satyajit Ray's famed detective, the Feluda test, which is priced at Rs 500 and can deliver a result in 45 minutes, is able to differentiate SARS-CoV-2 from other coronaviruses even if genetic variations between them are minute.
The Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats (CRISPR) Feluda test, developed by the New Delhi-based CSIR-Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology (IGIB) and the TATA Group, received regulatory approvals last week from the Drug Controller General of India (DCGI) for commercial launch.
It meets high quality benchmarks with 96 percent sensitivity and 98 percent specificity for detecting the novel coronavirus, Debojyoti Chakraborty, a senior scientist at CSIR-IGIB and part of the team that developed the test, told PTI.
Sensitivity is defined as the ability of a test to correctly identify individuals with the disease, while specificity is the ability of the assay to accurately identify those without the disease.
Similar to a pregnancy strip test, Feluda changes colour if the virus is detected and doesn't need expensive machines for detection.
Delhi records 3,227 new cases, tally crosses 2.76 lakh
The National Capital reported 48 COVID-19 fatalities on Tuesday, the highest in over 70 days, pushing the toll to 5,320, while the infection tally rose to over 2.76 lakh with 3,227 more people contracting the viral disease, authorities said. This is the highest number of deaths reported in a day since 16 July when the city recorded 58 fatalities.
However, Delhi health minister Satyendar Jain said that even though the city may have recorded more COVID-19 cases in September as compared to June, but the number of deaths due to the disease was "less than one-third" of what it was three months ago. He also said the health authorities in the National Capital have been conducting RTPCR tests on every symptomatic person.
On 26 September, Delhi had recorded 46 deaths, 42 the next day and 37 on 28. The 3,227 fresh cases reported on Tuesday came out of the 59,102 tests conducted the previous day.
Maharashtra's COVID-19 tally rose to 13,66,129 on Tuesday with the addition of 14,976 new cases, the state health department said. As many as 430 more patients succumbed to the infection, taking the fatality count in the state to 36,181, it said.
Also, 19,212 patients were discharged from hospitals in the last 24 hours, raising the tally of recovered people to 1,069,159, the department said.
Centre releases 'safe workplace' guidelines
Vardhan, along with Santosh Kumar Gangwar, Union Minister of State for Labour and Employment released a booklet on 'COVID-19- Safe Workplace Guidelines for Industry' through a virtual platform.
"These guidelines will help in the welfare of industrial workers. The guidelines act as comprehensive planning guidance for employers and workers to help identify risk levels of COVID-19 at individual workplace settings in their premises and to determine appropriate control measures," the health minister was quoted as saying in a statement by his ministry.
"Scientific prevention, precaution and positive attitude will help us in our fight against coronavirus. These guidelines will provide guidance for assessment, categorization and mitigation of risk related to varied work-related exposures to COVID-19 and contingency plan," he said.
These guidelines consolidate all important measures into a ready reckoner of action points to make workplace safe based on the bulwark of infection control measures like respiratory hygiene, frequent hand washing, social distancing and frequent sanitization of the workplace.
Gangwar said, "These guidelines for the safety of industrial workers will encourage people. It is important to prepare ourselves mentally for the present situation and spread awareness about COVID-appropriate behaviour."
With inputs from PTI