New Delhi, Nov 3 (PTI) The Union Health Ministry on Tuesday said Kerala, Delhi, West Bengal and Manipur have shown a rise in the number of active COVID-19 cases between October 3 and November 3, while Maharashtra, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Uttar Pradesh were the top states which registered a decline in active infections during the same period.
At a press briefing, Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan said there has been a continuous decline in average daily new COVID-19 cases as well as deaths for the last seven weeks, because of which 'healthcare systems were not unnecessarily burdened and there was less pressure on hospitals'.
The average daily new cases of COVID-19 have declined from 90,346 recorded between September 16 and September 22 to 45,884 between October 28 and November 3, he said.
Bhushan also said, 'The average daily new deaths due to COVID-19 have declined from 1,165 recorded from September 16 to September 22 to 513 registered between October 28 and November 3.' More than 11 crore COVID-19 tests have been conducted so far. The cumulative, weekly and daily positivity rate are constantly declining and stood at 7.4 per cent, 4.4 per cent and 3.7 per cent respectively, the health secretary said.
'We have to proactively follow the strategy of test, track, trace and treat even if our numbers are coming down,' he stressed.
Refuting allegations by a private diagnostic laboratory that government authorities in some districts have been trying to control testing to show fewer cases, Bhushan said there has been no reduction in the number of tests being done.
Of the 10,46,247 tests conducted on Monday, more than 1.5 lakh were done by private labs. For the last six to seven weeks, around 11 lakh tests were being conducted in the country daily, he said, adding India has the capacity to conduct over 15 lakh tests per day.
Asserting that a large part of the country's population was still susceptible to the coronavirus infection, NITI Aayog member (Health) V K Paul, who also heads the National Task Force on COVID-19, urged people to follow COVID-appropriate behaviour and asked people to get themselves tested if they observe any symptom of the viral disease.
'We are susceptible (to the virus) to a very large extent and the situation in America and Europe is showing (that). We don't know the behaviour of the virus completely. So, we need to save the gains that we have earned in our fight against the pandemic till now,' Paul said.
'I request you to kindly get yourself tested if you have any symptoms of COVID-19. It has been proven that even if you contract the disease, there is recovery,' he said.
In these times, even cold, cough and sore throat can be symptoms of COVID-19 unless proven otherwise, he said.
'It might be other flu too. But if we miss even one positive case, that may result in thousands of cases,' Paul said, adding cases may surge and there can be new peaks because of the festivals, cold weather and pollution in northern India.
He urged people to follow COVID-appropriate behaviour diligently.
To a question over shortage of ventilators in the national capital, Bhushan said in terms of hospital beds, a daily review of beds in central government hospitals is done. As on date, 80 beds in Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital, 140 beds in Safdarjung Hospital and more than 1,200 beds in AIIMS are still vacant, he said.
Regarding private hospitals, there is a strategy in place which is implemented by the Delhi government. Under this, the total number of COVID beds and vacant beds are made public, the Union health secretary said.
'As far as ventilators are concerned, we have provided sufficient number of ventilators to Delhi. If there is any demand in the future, we would be in a position to provide additional ventilators too,' he added.
Bhushan said from October 3 to November 3, active cases in West Bengal rose from 26,865 to 36,576, in Kerala from 77,564 to 86,792, in Delhi from 26,450 to 33308 and in Manipur from 2,336 to 3,568.
In order to avoid a surge in cases during festivities, ICMR Director General Balram Bhargava urged people to diligently follow COVID-appropriate behaviour such as wearing masks, maintaining social distancing and hand hygiene, saying they are the most cost-effective preventive measures.
'More data is emerging that a mask is protective and preventive, nearly as good as a vaccine,' he said.
Data has emerged that mask should be worn while doing exercise as well and it does not alter the blood oxygen levels. So people while exercising and while walking should continue wearing a mask, the ICMR D-G said.
About the steps taken by the government in providing training facilities to frontline workers, Bhushan said, an Integrated Government Online Training (iGOT) platform was created by the government during the pandemic.
The platform of the Department of Personnel and Training had more than 13.60 lakh unique users which include doctors, nurses, allied and healthcare professionals NCC cadets and frontline workers.
More than 19 lakh digital courses have been completed and certificates issued to more than 15 lakh trainees after assessment.
'The top 50 districts with highest course completions are from Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Maharashtra, Kerala, West Bengal and Chandigarh,' he added. PTI PLB/UZM NSD NSD