NEW DELHI: India logged 18,166 new coronavirus infections taking the country's total tally of COVID-19 cases to 3,39,53,475, while the active cases declined to 2,30,971, the lowest in 208 days, according to the Union Health Ministry data updated on Sunday.
The death toll climbed to 4,50,589 with 214 fresh fatalities, according to the data updated at 8 am.
The daily rise in new coronavirus infections has been below 30,000 for 16 straight days.
The active cases comprise 0.68 per cent of the total infections, the lowest since March 2020, while the national COVID-19 recovery rate was recorded at 97.99 per cent, the highest since March 2020, the ministry said.
A decrease of 5,672 cases has been recorded in the active COVID-19 caseload in a span of 24 hours.
As many as 12,83,212 tests were conducted on Saturday taking the total cumulative tests conducted so far for detection of COVID-19 in the country to 58,25,95,693 .
The daily positivity rate was recorded at 1.42 per cent.
It has been less than three per cent for last 41 days.
The weekly positivity rate was recorded at 1.57 per cent.
It has been below three per cent for the last 107 days, according to the ministry.
The number of people who have recuperated from the disease surged to 3,32,71,915, while the case fatality rate was recorded at 1.33 per cent.
The cumulative doses administered in the country so far under the nationwide COVID-19 vaccination drive has exceeded 94.70 crore.
India's COVID-19 tally had crossed the 20-lakh mark on August 7, 2020, 30 lakh on August 23, 40 lakh on September 5 and 50 lakh on September 16.
It went past 60 lakh on September 28, 70 lakh on October 11, crossed 80 lakh on October 29, 90 lakh on November 20 and surpassed the one-crore mark on December 19.
India crossed the grim milestone of two crore on May 4 and three crore on June 23.
The 214 new fatalities include 101 from Kerala, and 44 from Maharashtra.
A total of 4,50,589 deaths have been reported so far in the country including 1,39,514 from Maharashtra, 37,875 from Karnataka, 35,768 from Tamil Nadu, 26,173 from Kerala, 25,088 from Delhi, 22,896 from Uttar Pradesh and 18,894 from West Bengal.
The ministry stressed that more than 70 per cent of the deaths occurred due to comorbidities.
"Our figures are being reconciled with the Indian Council of Medical Research," the ministry said on its website, adding that state-wise distribution of figures is subject to further verification and reconciliation.
The cumulative number of COVID-19 vaccine doses administered in the country crossed 94.62 crore on Saturday, the Union health ministry said.
More than 60 lakh (60,66,412) vaccine doses have been administered till 7 pm on Saturday, it said.
The daily vaccination tally is expected to increase with the compilation of final reports for the day by late night, it said.
The vaccination exercise as a tool to protect the most vulnerable population groups in the country from the novel coronavirus infection continues to be regularly reviewed and monitored at the highest level, the ministry underlined.
The countrywide vaccination drive was rolled out on January 16 with healthcare workers (HCWs) getting inoculated in the first phase.
The vaccination of frontline workers (FLWs) started from February 2.
The next phase of COVID-19 vaccination commenced from March 1 for people over 60 years of age and those aged 45 and above with specified co-morbid conditions.
The country launched vaccination for all people aged more than 45 years from April 1.
The government then decided to expand its vaccination drive by allowing everyone above 18 to be vaccinated from May 1.
COVID-19 containment can derail if festivals are not celebrated following protocols, Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya warned on Saturday and exhorted 19 states to escalate their inoculation pace so that India can achieve administering 100 crore vaccine doses in the next few days.
India has so far administered over 94 crore Covid vaccine doses.
Reviewing the progress of COVID-19 vaccination with principal secretaries and mission directors of the National Health Mission from all major states, Mandaviya underlined that administering 100 crore doses of Covid vaccine is the immediate milestone in India's inoculation journey.
According to a Health Ministry statement, Mandaviya noted that if festivals, synonymous with auspiciousness, joy and large gatherings, are not observed as per Covid protocols, containment of COVID-19 can get derailed.
"The two-pronged solution is to follow Covid protocols very strictly and to speed up vaccination," the minister said.
He cited results of experiments that pegged the number of first dose recipients not developing severe COVID-19 to be 96 per cent and further pointed out that the number increases to nearly 98 per cent for people who have taken both doses of the vaccine.
Officials of Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Haryana, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Odisha, Punjab, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal took part in the meeting.
Observing that over eight crore balance vaccine doses are physically available with states, Mandaviya enquired about specific hurdles, if any, faced by them in increasing their pace of vaccination and vaccine coverage among the target population, the statement said.
Many states are nearing saturation of coverage in urban areas and are catering to the floating population in the city, it said.
Labour and time-intensive door-to-door vaccination is being undertaken in some geographically aloof pockets where first dose coverage is nearing saturation.
Uttar Pradesh state that comparatively limited supply of Covaxin and its shorter span between the doses as a rate inhibiting factor, according to the statement.
"In consultation with the states, the minister exhorted each state to increase their target so that the administration of the last six crore doses for reaching the mark of 100 crore is achieved in the next few days," the health ministry stated.
Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan urged all the state health administrators to be strict with observance of Covid-appropriate behaviour during festivities to prevent a COVID-19 outbreak.
He underlined the need to adhere to a detailed standard operating procedure issued through a ministry's letter on September 21.
It included no mass-gatherings in containment zones and in districts with over 5 per cent case positivity.
Gatherings with advance permissions and limited people to be allowed in districts with a positivity rate of 5 per cent and below.
Relaxations and restrictions to be imposed based on weekly case positivity.
States should closely monitor case trajectories in all districts daily to identify any early warning signal to ensure the imposition of restrictions and adherence to Covid-appropriate behaviour accordingly.
All rituals like the burning of effigies, Durga Puja pandals, Dandia, Garbas and Chhatt Puja should be symbolic.
The number of people allowed to participate in gatherings and processions should be regulated.
Places of worship should have separate entry and exit points while the use of common prayer mats, offering of 'prasad', the sprinkling of holy water should be avoided.