New Delhi, June 5 (PTI) The nationwide count of confirmed COVID-19 cases rose to 2.28 lakh on Friday and the death toll crossed 6,500, while the number of states with four-digit or bigger tallies has doubled since May 1 when migrant movements began in special trains from big urban clusters to their villages. Some of these states have seen their tallies rising more than 10-fold.
This was followed by special international flights, beginning May 7, to bring back Indians stranded abroad and expatriates from different countries, which have also been attributed by some states for their rising tallies.
Domestic flights also resumed in a phased manner on May 25 during the fourth phase of the lockdown with significant relaxations after almost two months of a near-complete shutdown of various economic activities. A phased unlocking exercise is now in its first week.
The total number of confirmed cases across the country stood at nearly 35,000 on the morning of May 1 and the death toll was less than 1,150, showed the 8 AM update of the Union Health Ministry on that day.
In its latest update this morning, the ministry said the number of confirmed cases has risen to 2,26,770 and the death toll has grown to 6,348 now -- marking nearly six-fold jump in the case count and an over five-fold surge in the number of fatalities since May 1.
A PTI tally of figures announced by different states and union territories, as of 9.15 PM, showed the number of confirmed cases having risen further to 2,28,038 and the death toll to 6,557. This marked a record increase of more than 10,600 cases in the last 24 hours and a spike of 334 fatalities.
The count of recoveries has also risen to over 1.12 lakh, still leaving close to 1.10 lakh active cases across the country. The cases have been rising sharply, by 8,000 or more, for several days now.
The tally showed that at least 19 states now have their tallies of confirmed cases in four or more digits, as against just nine on May 1. Also, three states now have five-digit tallies, as against only Maharashtra in that category on May 1.
While Delhi and Gujarat already have their tallies running into five digits, at least three other states (Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh) have total confirmed cases of more than 9,000.
The states and union territories with four-digit or bigger tallies now include Assam, Bihar, Haryana, Jammu & Kashmir, Karnataka, Kerala, Odisha, Punjab, Uttarakhand and West Bengal. Besides, Jharkhand and Chhattishgarh have over 800 cases each.
The states that had four-digit or bigger tallies on May 1 itself included Andhra Pradesh, Delhi, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Telangana and Uttar Pradesh.
In this period, Maharashtra's tally has actually grown from about 11,000 to more than 80,000, while that of Delhi has also risen manifold from about 3,700 to more than 26,000 and Gujarat from about 4,700 to over 19,000.
Among the newer states to see a big surge, Odisha's tally has risen from less than 150 to over 2,600, Bihar has risen from 466 to nearly 4,600, Haryana has grown from 357 to nearly 3,600 and West Bengal has seen its numbers rise from 744 to more than 7,300.
Maharashtra tops the charts in terms of total confirmed cases, active cases, recoveries and deaths. Delhi is at the second place in terms of active cases, though it is third after Tamil Nadu in terms of total cases. Gujarat is ranked second for fatalities, followed by Delhi at the third place.
In terms of recoveries, Maharashtra is followed by Tamil Nadu, Gujarat, Delhi and Rajasthan.
The central and state governments are currently in the process of formulating guidelines for further unlocking from various restrictions that are still in place since March 25, when the nationwide lockdown first came into effect.
The Union Health Ministry said the aim of its standard operating procedures (SOPs) for religious places, shopping malls, restaurants, hotels and offices is to instil appropriate behaviour among people to contain COVID-19 transmission chain while allowing resumption of social and economic activities.
Accelerating efforts to restart long-stalled business activities to contain the economic cost of the pandemic, the Health Ministry on Thursday had released SOPs for reopening offices, hotels, shopping malls, restaurants and religious places. Some of them have already re-opened in parts of the country and a few others are scheduled to re-start in the next phase of unlocking from next Monday.
In the meantime, a senior doctor at the country's premier medical institution AIIMS has criticised the government's policies and communication strategies to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic, saying it was driven by clinicians and bureaucrats instead of epidemiologists and public health experts.
In a letter to the editor of the Indian Journal of Public Health, Dr Anoop Saraya, the head of the Department of Gastroenterology at the AIIMS, said the success of any advisory group of scientists depends on a 'culture of openness, independence, and diversity of opinion'.
As cases mounted from across the states and UTs on Friday, sources said five employees of the Union Health Ministry, including a director, have also tested positive for COVID-19 in the last seven days. This has prompted authorities to carry out a 'major and comprehensive disinfection and sanitisation' of office premises from June 6-7.
In Assam, Guwahati Central Jail was sealed after an inmate tested COVID-19 positive. The state has seen its tally rise past 2,150, from only about 40 on May 1.
Among other states, Uttar Pradesh recorded its biggest single-day jump of 496 COVID-19 cases on Friday, taking its tally to 9,733, while 12 more people succumbed to the disease to take the death toll to 257.
Its neighbouring hill state Uttarakhand recorded 46 new cases to take its tally to 1,199.
In Puducherry, the tally crossed the 100-mark after five new cases emerged.
Nagaland reported 14 new cases to take its tally to 94, while fresh cases were detected across various other north-eastern states as well.
Maharashtra reported 2,436 new cases, taking its tally to 80,229, while its death toll rose to 2,849 after 139 more people succumbed to the virus infection.
In Gujarat, 510 more people tested positive and 35 died, taking its tally of confirmed cases to 19,199 and the death toll to 1,190.
A record increase was recorded by West Bengal too where 427 new cases took the tally to 7,303.
Karnataka also registered its highest single-day spike of more than 500 new COVID-19 cases, taking the total number of infections in the state to 4,835.
Tamil Nadu recorded 1,438 new cases and 12 deaths on Friday, taking its case count to 28,694 and fatalities to 232.
Kerala recorded its first ever three-digit surge for a single day with its tally rising by 111 to reach 1,699. Nearly 1.77 lakh people are under observation in the state.
On May 8, Kerala had declared that it had flattened the coronavirus curve after reporting a solitary case and just 16 people under treatment at that time.
However, with more people coming to the state from abroad and from other states, the cases have seen a sudden spike.
Expressing concern at the increasing graph of the virus infections, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said it had nearly doubled since June 1 when 57 positive cases were detected in the state after which there has been a steady climb -- with 86 cases on June 2, 82 on June 3 and 94 on June 4.
He described the COVID-19 situation in the state as grim. PTI PLB PM TR SAB NBS ALM MR KSU SCH UD VGN PJT PD BJ RAM