In a fortnight, number of COVID-19 hotspot districts decreases to 129 from 170; death toll now 1,008

New Delhi, Apr 29 (PTI) The number of COVID-19 hotspot districts in India has come down to 129 from 170 a fortnight ago, but in the same period the number of infection-free districts or green zones too decreased from 325 to 307, official sources said on Wednesday.

During this time, the number of non-hotspot districts, also known as orange zones, increased from 207 to 297, they said.

On April 15, the Centre had declared 170 districts across 25 states and Union Territories as coronavirus hotspots or red zones. Of these, 123 were hotspot districts with large outbreaks and 47 with clusters. It had also said 325 districts had not reported any coronavirus case because of actions initiated at field level.

According to Health Ministry data, the number of coronavirus cases in the country climbed to 31,787 on Wednesday, while the number of fatalities rose to 1,008, registering a record jump of 71 deaths in 24 hours.

There has been a spike of 1,813 cases since Tuesday evening. The total COVID-19 cases reported so far include 111 foreign nationals.

The number of active COVID-19 cases stands at 22,982, while 7,796 people have recovered and one patient has migrated, the ministry said.

'Thus, around 24.52 per cent of the patients have recovered so far,' a health ministry official said.

Health Minister Harsh Vardhan said of the total active COVID-19 cases in the country, only 0.33 per cent patients are on ventilators, 1.5 per cent are on oxygen support and 2.34 per cent are in ICU.

Active COVID-19 cases are those who are currently undergoing treatment in hospitals or are lodged in quarantine facilities.

Vardhan, who interacted with the Lions Club International members across the country through a video link, said the mortality rate in COVID-19 patients in India is three per cent as compared to seven per cent globally.

Around 86 per cent of the fatalities have been reported among those with co-morbidities such as diabetes, hypertension, chronic kidney and heart-related issues, he said.

The health minister also said 288 government laboratories are working along with 97 private laboratory chains with around 16,000 sample collection centres, testing around 60,000 samples daily.

The government is working to increase the testing capacity to one lakh tests per day within the next few days, he added.

The minister on Tuesday said that 80 districts in the country have not reported any new case of COVID-19 in the previous seven days while 47 districts have not registered any fresh case in 14 days. Also, 39 districts have not reported any instance of the infection in 21 days and 17 districts have not registered any new case for 28 days, he had said.

The government has already identified 15 districts in nine states, including Delhi, Maharashtra and Gujarat, as having 'high case load'. Of these, seven -- Hyderabad (Telangana), Pune (Maharashtra), Jaipur (Rajasthan), Indore (Madhya Pradesh), Ahmedabad (Gujarat), Mumbai (Maharashtra) and Delhi show particularly high case volumes.

The other place with a high case load that are 'critical' in the battle against COVID-19 include -- Vadodara (Gujarat), Kurnool (Andhra Pradesh), Bhopal (Madhya Pradesh), Jodhpur (Rajasthan), Agra (Uttar Pradesh), Thane (Maharashtra), Chennai (Tamil Nadu) and Surat (Gujarat).

'These 15 districts are critical in our battle against COVID-19. Of them, 7 show particularly high case volumes. India's success in battling COVID-19 is dependent on them. We must aggressively monitor, contain, test, treat in these districts! We must win here,' Niti Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant tweeted on Monday.

A senior health ministry said the doubling time of coronavirus cases in India was three to 3.25 days before the nationwide lockdown was imposed on March 25 and now it is 10.2 to 10.9 days.

A total of 71 deaths were reported in the country since Tuesday evening, of which 31 fatalities were from Maharashtra, 19 from Gujarat, six from Madhya Pradesh, five each from Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh, two from West Bengal and one each from Jammu and Kashmir, Punjab and Tamil Nadu.

Of the total 1,008 deaths, Maharashtra tops the tally with 400 fatalities, followed by Gujarat at 181, Madhya Pradesh at 119, Delhi at 54, Rajasthan at 51, Uttar Pradesh at 36 and Andhra Pradesh at 31.

The death toll reached 26 in Telengana, 25 in Tamil Nadu, 22 in West Bengal. While Karantaka reported 20 deaths, Punjab has registered 19 fatalities so far. The disease has claimed eight lives in Jammu and Kashmir, four in Kerala while Jharkhand and Haryana have recorded three COVID-19 deaths each.

Bihar has reported two deaths, while Meghalaya, Himachal Pradesh, Odisha and Assam have reported one fatality each, according to the ministry data.

The highest number of confirmed cases in the country are from Maharashtra at 9,318, followed by Gujarat at 3,774, Delhi at 3,314, Madhya Pradesh at 2,561, Rajasthan at 2,364, Uttar Pradesh at 2,115 and Tamil Nadu at 2,058. PTI PLB ASK NSD