The tally of coronavirus cases in India neared 60 lakh with 88,600 new infections reported on Sunday, while the total number of recoveries crossed 49 lakh and took the recovery rate to 82.46 percent, the Union health ministry said.
The toll rose to 94,503 with 1,124 people succumbing to the disease in a span of 24 hours, data updated at 8 am showed.
The total caseload in the country rose to 59,92,532, includes 49,41,627 recoveries and 9,56,402 active cases. The active cases comprise 15.96 percent of the total caseload, the data stated. The COVID-19 case fatality rate was recorded at 1.58 percent.
According to the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), a cumulative total of 7,12,57,836 samples have been tested up to 26 September, with 9,87,861 samples being tested on Saturday.
'Populace far from achieving herd immunity'
The ICMR's second sero-survey shows that Indian population is still far from achieving herd immunity against the coronavirus infection, Union health minister Harsh Vardhan said on Sunday, while underlining the need for following COVID appropriate behaviour.
He also stressed that masks be worn even in places of worship.
During an interaction with social media followers, the minister said the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) is actively investigating reports of COVID-19 reinfection, and although the number of such cases is "negligible at the moment", the Centre is "fully seized" of the importance of the matter, the health ministry said in a statement.
He cautioned that the sero-survey report should not create a sense of complacency among the people.
The first sero-survey of May 2020 had revealed that the nationwide prevalence of novel coronavirus infection was only 0.73 percent.
"Even the soon to be released second sero-survey indications are that we are far from having achieved any kind of herd immunity which necessitates that all of us should continue following COVID appropriate behaviour," Vardhan said in response to the queries posed by his social media followers on Sunday Samvad platform.
The health minister also dispelled fears regarding the phased opening of schools, and advised on proper protocol to be followed while visiting salons and hair spas, the ministry said.
"The pandemic can only be fought when the government and society work in tandem," he was quoted as saying in the statement.
Fatality rate less than 1% in past 10 days: Delhi
Delhi health minister Satyendar Jain said that the COVID-19 fatality rate in the National Capital was less than one percent in the past 10 days and asserted that a massive increase in testing for the detection of the spread of coronavirus has led to the rise in cases.
Noting that 46 deaths were reported in the last 24 hours " which is reportedly the highest in nearly 70 days " Jain said, "We do not look at the figures for a single day. The average fatality rate of the last 10 days has been 0.94 percent."
"The patients who have succumbed are not those who tested positive in a day. These are people who tested positive 15-20 days back. That is why we take the average of 10 days," he added.
The overall case fatality rate is 1.94 percent. The occupancy of beds in Delhi hospitals has declined in the last four-five days and 55 percent of the total beds are unoccupied currently, the minister added.
The Delhi government had constituted a three-member committee to audit daily the deaths caused by the coronavirus in the National Capital. Jain said the committee visited all the hospitals and the report is satisfactory.
"There were a few glitches which have been ironed out. There was a time when the fatality rate was at four percent but it has remained below one percent in the last 10 days," he said.
SII CEO lauds Narendra Modi's UNGA speech
This, a day after Poonawalla had questioned the Centre on its plans to manage vaccine distribution in the country.
In his address on Saturday, Modi said, "As the largest vaccine producing country of the world, I want to give one more assurance to the global community today. India's vaccine production and delivery capacity will be used to help all humanity in fighting this crisis."
In a tweet on Sunday, Poonwalla said it was "clear" that the Centre's "arrangements for India will take care of all needs for the Indian people".
"We share and applaud your vision @narendramodi ji, on providing vaccines to the global community. It is a proud moment for India, thank you for your leadership and support. It is clear that all your arrangements for India will take care of all needs for the Indian people," Poonawalla tweeted.
Modi's speech at the UNGA also received praise from British prime minister Boris Johnson and the WHO.
In his own speech at the UNGA on Sunday, Johnson made a special reference to India's role in the manufacture and access to one of the most promising coronavirus vaccine candidates currently undergoing trials, during his address to the United Nations (UN) General Assembly on Sunday.
In reference to the vaccine being worked on by the University of Oxford in partnership with the Serum Institute of India, Johnson stressed the importance of equitable access of any successful vaccine because the health of every country depends on the whole world having access to a safe and effective vaccine, wherever a breakthrough might occur.
"The Oxford vaccine is now in Stage 3 of clinical trials, and in case of success AstraZeneca has already begun to manufacture millions of doses, in readiness for rapid distribution, and they have reached agreement with the Serum Institute of India to supply 1 billion doses to low and middle-income countries," he said.
Meanwhile, WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has lauded Modi's statement and said the pandemic can be defeated only by mobilising resources for common good.
Uma Bharti, Congress' Dinesh Gundu Rao test positive
Karnataka Congress leader and MLA Dinesh Gundu Rao on Sunday said he has tested positive for COVID-19.
"I have tested #Corona positive today. Therefore will be quarantining myself for 10 days. I request all my primary contacts to get themselves checked and take necessary precaution," Rao tweeted. The former state Congress president said he was asymptomatic and will recover soon.
Rao had taken part in the proceedings of the monsoon session of the Karnataka Assembly till late on Saturday night. He was recently appointed as AICC in-charge of Tamil Nadu, Goa and Puducherry.
Meanwhile, former Union minister and senior BJP leader Uma Bharti also said that she tested positive for COVID-19 and has quarantined herself.
Taking to Twitter, Bharti on Saturday night said that she had taken a COVID-19 test as she was suffering from fever, and the report came positive.
The 1,124 new fatalities include 430 from Maharashtra, 86 from Karnataka,85 from Tamil Nadu, 67 from Uttar Pradesh, 57 from Andhra Pradesh, 56 from West Bengal, 54 from Punjab, 46 from Delhi and 40 from Chhattisgarh.
Total 94,503 deaths reported so far in the country includes 35,191 from Maharashtra, followed by 9,233 from Tamil Nadu, 8,503 from Karnataka, 5,663 from Andhra Pradesh, 5,517 from Uttar Pradesh, 5,193 from Delhi, 4,721 from West Bengal, 3,406 from Gujarat, 3,188 from Punjab and 2,181 from Madhya Pradesh.
With inputs from agencies