New Delhi, Sep 3 (PTI) Amid a surge in coronavirus infections in India, the Union Health Ministry on Thursday said Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Delhi and Andhra Pradesh accounted for 70 per cent of the total COVID-19 deaths in the country.
The ministry further said that five states -- Maharashtra (24.77 pc), Andhra Pradesh (12.64 pc), Karnataka (11.58 pc), Uttar Pradesh (6.92 pc) and Tamil Nadu (6.42 pc) -- accounted for 62 per cent of the total active cases in the country.
Addressing a press conference, Secretary in the Union Health Ministry Rajesh Bhushan said if deaths are tracked in these four states and one union territory -- Maharashtra (37.39 per cent of total deaths), Tamil Nadu (11.16 pc), Karnataka (8.83 pc), Andhra Pradesh (6.12 pc) and Delhi (6.65 pc) -- across weeks then a different picture emerges.
The average daily case fatality trajectory over the past three weeks in these states show that only Karnataka and Delhi have recorded an increase in the case fatality trajectory, Bhushan highlighted.
'Over the past three weeks (August 13-19, August 20-26 and August 27-September 2), Andhra Pradesh recorded a decrease in fatalities by 4.5 pc, Maharashtra recorded a 11.5 pc decrease and Tamil Nadu showed a 18.2 pc decrease in fatalities. 'On the other hand, Karnataka recorded a 9.6 pc increase in fatalities over this period while Delhi recorded a 50 pc surge in fatalities over the past three weeks,' he said.
The Health Secretary also shared information about state-level week-on-week average daily active cases trajectory. Five states -- Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Uttar Pradesh and Tamil Nadu -- accounted for more than 62 per cent of the active cases, he said.
As per data received from these five states on Wednesday (September 2), Maharashtra has recorded 6.8 pc decrease in the number of active cases over a period of three weeks.
'Starting from an average of more than 2 lakh active cases in the week falling between August 13-19, it decreased to around 1.66 lakh active cases between August 20-26, and then was around 1.86 lakh in between August 27-September 2, 2020.
'Similarly, Andhra Pradesh recorded almost 13.7 pc decrease in the average number of active cases over the last three weeks. Karnataka recorded almost 16.1 pc decrease in active cases, Tamil Nadu recorded almost 23.9 pc decrease and Uttar Pradesh recorded almost 17.1 pc decrease in the number of active cases in the same period,' Bhushan elaborated. The number of active cases has also increased in Delhi over the past few days, for which the Union Home Affairs Ministry is actively engaging with the Delhi government to take necessary action. The Health Ministry tracks cases on a daily, weekly and cumulative basis and these data are shared with states so that every state and UT can decide upon their strategy based on this information.
Bhushan further said India has 2,792 cases of COVID-19 and 49 deaths per million population which is amongst the lowest in the world.
'Recovered cases of COVID-19 in the country are 3.6 times the number of active cases,' he underlined as the number of patients having recuperated from the disease surged to nearly 30 lakh.
Responding to a question, Bhushan said the Union Health Ministry has not issued any guidelines recommending wearing of a mask if someone is driving a car or cycling alone.
However, if someone is exercising, cycling or jogging in a group, they should wear masks and maintain social distancing so as not to infect each other, he stressed.
On a question as to why the government is opening up different economic activities when daily numbers are increasing, Bhushan said a graded approach has been adopted to 'unlock' and open up various economic activities. With a record single-day spike of 83,883 infections, India's COVID-19 caseload mounted to 38,53,406, while the death toll climbed to 67,376 with 1,043 people succumbing to the disease in a day, according to Union health ministry data updated at 8 am.
'It is not as if suddenly everything has been opened up,' he said, adding prior to graded opening of economic activities, the government also ensured that all prerequisites such as adequate testing capacity, clear-cut guidelines of standard clinical treatment protocol and enhanced hospital infrastructure are in place.
'At the end of the day the government firmly believes that while lives are important, livelihoods are equally important,' he said.
Daily positive numbers are increasing and there is no doubt about it, Bhushan said but stressed that these numbers have to be seen in the context of the total population of India. 'We are conducting, on an average, nine-and-half lakh tests in a day which was not happening at least a month-and-a-half ago. Yesterday, in a span of 24 hours we conducted over 11.70 lakh tests, and what is interesting to note is that in that 11.70 lakh tests, the positivity rate remained 7.20 per cent,' he said.
Country's cumulative positivity rate is 8.4 per cent and the positivity last week was 8 per cent.
Though the testing has increased, there is a decline in positivity rate, he said.
Bhushan said states and UTs where COVID positivity rate among healthcare workers is on the higher side are Telangana (18 per cent), Maharashtra (16 per cent), Delhi (14 per cent), Karnataka (13 per cent), Puducherry (12 per cent) and Punjab (11 per cent). PTI PLB/UZM SMN SMN