23 Feb 2021: Meeting at PM's Office amid spike in COVID-19 cases
A meeting was called at the Prime Minister's Office today to review the coronavirus situation in the country amid a rise in cases reported in several states.
The high-level meet comes as there are growing concerns over mutated strains of the virus - such variants that originated abroad and in India and are said to be more infectious.
Here are more details on this.
Details: Several states witnessing a rise in COVID-19 cases
The said meeting was attended by Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan, NDTV reports.
At least five states - Maharashtra, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, and Punjab - have been witnessing a rise in COVID-19 cases in recent days.
The new strains of the virus coupled with increasing laxity among people in adhering to virus-related safety guidelines are said to be responsible for the spike.
New strains: 240 new strains have reportedly emerged across India
Reportedly, 240 new strains of the virus have emerged across the country lately.
Dr. Shashank Joshi, a member of Maharashtra's COVID-19 Task Force, had said last week that the new strains could be behind the increase in cases in that state.
So far, India has reported about 200 cases of the UK strain, while the South African strain has been detected in four people.
Testing: 800-900 samples sent for genome sequencing
According to sources in the Union Health Ministry, 800 to 900 samples - from Maharashtra and Kerala - have been sent for genome sequencing in the past month, NDTV reported today.
Further, samples for this process have also been sought from Punjab as well as Bengaluru.
Genome sequencing is a testing process to understand the complete genetics of an organism.
COVID-19: India currently has 1.47 lakh active coronavirus cases
The total number of coronavirus cases reported in India since the pandemic started spreading in the country last year is now more than 1.10 crore, with 1.56 lakh deaths linked to the disease.
Currently, there are around 1.47 lakh active coronavirus cases in India, the second worst-hit country in the outbreak after the United States.
Maharashtra and Kerala continue to remain the worst-affected states.
Restrictions: Fresh restrictions imposed in several states
In the wake of the rise in cases, several states have come up with new restrictions to control the spread.
The Maharashtra government issued clampdown orders at Amravati, Aurangabad, Yavatmal, and other areas.
Meanwhile, in Rajasthan's Jodhpur, the police said that only essential services, schools, and colleges will be allowed to function.
Separately, the Punjab government said more than 100 people cannot gather indoors.