Maharashtra prepares for second COVID-19 wave; India active cases remain under 5 lakh

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India's COVID-19 tally crosses 65 lakh, 75,829 new cases in 24 hrs; aim to vaccinate 25 crore by July, says Harsh Vardhan
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Meanwhile, the Karnataka government announced that a COVID-19 RT-PCR negative test report will be mandatory for all teachers, students, and non-teaching staff part in degree, medical and engineering colleges

While Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal said that the third COVID-19 wave in the city is likely to be brought under control in the next 10 days, the Maharashtra government instructed authorities to ensure no complacency in testing as a second wave is expected in January or February.

Kejriwal attributed the surge in the spread of infection to the spike in air pollution due to various reasons, even as Delhi recorded its highest single-day spike of 8,593 cases on Wednesday. On Thursday, the city had reported 7,053 new cases. The cases for Friday were not announced till the publication of this article.

On the other hand, Maharashtra, which was one of the worst-affected states in the country at the onset of the pandemic in India, has been gradually seeing a flattening curve. However, the Uddhav Thackeray government is taking no chances with the prediction of a second wave likely to occur early next year.

A circular issued by the government’s health services directorate on 11 November said that a second wave is likely based on the COVID-19 situation in Europe currently. Several countries, including the UK, have imposed another stringent lockdown to curb the resurgent spread of the virus.

Meanwhile, the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare on Friday said that the overall countrywide tally of active COVID-19 cases remained below five lakh for the third consecutive day. Currently, it is 4,84,547, which is 5.55 percent of India’s total caseload.

The figure for new cases in the span of 24 hours stood at 44,879, while the recoveries in the same period of time were recorded at 49,079.

The ministry added that this trend has been observed for the 41st day on Friday. The total recovered cases have surged to 81,15,580, which translates to a national recovery rate of 92.97 percent.

“The gap between recovered cases and active cases continues to grow and presently stands at 76,31,033,” the ministry said.

Maharashtra govt tells local authorities to maintain high testing

In its instructions on testing, the Maharashtra government said that testing labs should be functional in every district and municipal corporation limits.

The circular said that the number of COVID-19 cases in Maharashtra has showed signs of decline since October. However, a second wave of the virus has hit many countries, especially those in Europe, it added.

The circular said there should be no complacency in coronavirus testing and all labs will remain functional as per Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) guidelines. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), there should be 140 tests per day per 10 lakh population, it said.

For this, there should be testing labs in each district and municipal corporation limits, the government document was quoted as saying.

The circular said the need of the hour is to celebrate a firecracker-free Diwali keeping in mind the health interest of COVID-19 patients and those with breathing problems.

Till 12 November, Maharashtra has recorded 17,36,329 COVID-19 cases and 45,682 deaths.

Karnataka govt to make negative test report mandatory for college students, teachers

A COVID-19 RT-PCR negative test report will be mandatory for all the teachers, students, and non-teaching staff in Karnataka, with the government deciding to reopen the degree, medical and engineering colleges.

After eight months of COVID-19 -induced lockdown, the Karnataka government has decided to start the degree, engineering, and diploma colleges from 17 November and medical, nursing, AYUSH, and paramedical colleges from 1 December.

In view of the reopening of colleges, the Commissioner of Health and Family Welfare Pankaj Kumar Pandey passed the order making the RT-PCR test report mandatory.

“As per SoP issued from Government of Karnataka, all teachers, students, and non-teaching staff members of colleges and hostels shall produce a COVID-19 RT-PCR negative test report, which is done within 72 hours before the day of joining,” the order said.

Pandey instructed the health staff to collect the samples from teachers, students, and non-teaching staff of both colleges and hostels, without any delays and facilitate quick testing.

He directed all the labs to carry out testing of these samples through a pooled (1:5) testing process and upload the results on the ICMR portal immediately.

Statewise details

According to the health ministry, 77.83 percent of the new recovered cases in India are observed to be concentrated in 10 states and Union Territories.

Maharashtra reported the maximum number of single-day recoveries. A total of 7,809 new recoveries have pushed the state’s total recoveries to 16,05,064.

About 76.25 percent of the new coronavirus infections are concentrated in 10 states and union territories, the ministry said.

Delhi reported the maximum daily new cases numbering 7,053 in the last 24 hours. Kerala recorded 5,537 new cases while Maharashtra reported 4,496 new cases in a span of 24 hours, it said.

Ten states and union territories account for about 80 percent (79.34 percent) of the 547 case fatalities reported in a span of 24 hours with 22.3 percent of them being reported from Maharashtra which reported 122 deaths.

Delhi and West Bengal follow with 104 and 54 new deaths, respectively.

 

UK begins to curb COVID-19 spread, Germany reports record figures

Some tentative signs emerged on Friday to suggest that the UK’s coronavirus resurgence is leveling off after wide-ranging restrictions were imposed. However, Germany’s disease control centre reported a new daily record of coronavirus infections on Friday as the country nears the halfway point of new lockdown measures, AP reported.

The Robert Koch Institute says Germany’s states had reported 23,542 daily cases on Friday, slightly more than the previous record of 23,399 set on Saturday. Chancellor Angela Merkel will hold talks with state governors on Monday, the midway point into a series of measures the government has called “lockdown light”.

Back in the UK, Britain’s statistics agency said the rate of growth of the virus in England appeared to be slowing around the time a new four-week lockdown took effect on 5 November. And the British government’s main scientific advisory group said the virus’ reproduction rate dipped even before the latest lockdown.

Like others in Europe, the four nations of the UK have reimposed restrictions over recent weeks to get on top of the virus’ resurgence. With new infections rising, the number of COVID-19 patients being hospitalised has increased sharply and so have deaths. On Thursday, the UK recorded another 563 virus-related deaths, taking the total to just under 51,000, the highest in Europe.

Meanwhile, the Group of 20 nations, representing the world’s biggest economies, announced Friday that low-income countries hardest hit by the fallout of the coronavirus pandemic could potentially get an extension on their debt payments beyond mid-2021, and in the most severe cases, a debt write-off.

But it did not specify which creditors would agree to possible debt cancellation. China, for instance, has repeatedly objected to portions of the debt relief plans. The country, considered to be Africa’s largest creditor, is reluctant to give up the billions it is owed from its politically strategic projects across the developing world as its own economy slows.

The meeting comes a month after the G-20 agreed to suspend $14 billion in debt payments for an additional six months to support 73 of the world’s neediest countries in their fight against the pandemic. Developing nations now have until June 2021 to spend on healthcare and emergency stimulus programmes without fretting about grueling debt repayments to foreign creditors.

 

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