34 states, UTs recording decline in COVID-19 cases, positivity rate: Government
Lav Agarwal said, "A decline in COVID-19 case fatality rate has been noted with an increase in administration of vaccine doses."
NEW DELHI: The pandemic situation has improved and even though there are states and districts of concern, overall there is a contraction in the spread of COVID-19, the government said on Thursday.
Addressing a press conference here, Joint Secretary in the Union Health Ministry Lav Agarwal said 34 states and union territories, including Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra and Gujarat, are recording a decline in new cases and positivity on a week-on-week basis, while Kerala and Mizoram still remain two states of concern.
Agarwal said there has been a consistent decline in daily COVID-19 cases, daily active cases and the daily positivity rate, indicating a decreased spread of the infection.
A decline in COVID-19 case fatality rate has been noted with an increase in administration of vaccine doses, he stated.
Daily Covid cases declined by over 50 per cent between January 21 and February 3 (from 3,47,254 to 1,72,433), and during the same period, the daily positivity rate reduced from 17.94 per cent to 10.99 per cent, indicating a decreased spread of the infection.
India reported a peak of 3,47,254 cases on January 21, which is less than the previous peak of 4,14,188 on May 7. Also, for the last 14 days, a consistent decline in cases has been reported in India.
A substantial decline in active cases -- patients who are either on home isolation or hospitalised -- is being noted in last around 12 days, Agarwal said.
The number of districts with positivity rate more than 10 per cent has reduced from 406 (January 20-26, 2022) to 297 (January 27-February 2), and currently, there are 169 districts with a positivity rate between five and 10 per cent.
Also there are 268 districts with positivity rate less than five per cent. "The pandemic situation has improved. There are states and districts of concern, but overall there is a contraction in the spread of infection which is heartening. There are 268 districts where the positivity is below five per cent. And clearly, these districts can move in the direction of non COVID care and also in the direction of other economic activities as well as school opening etc," NITI Aayog member (Health) Dr V K Paul said.
"This declining trend of pandemic allows us to think about those options in general as well," he said, adding the two states of concern are Kerala and Mizoram in particular with high positivity rate. He stressed that the virus has not gone away as yet and urged people to be vigilant and careful.
"We have to be following strategies to contain, to address this pandemic. So it's a mixed picture but overall, we do see a decline in the step in the spread of the infection," he said.
Paul further said that there is clear evidence that vaccination has been protecting people. "Vaccination has been ensuring low prevalence of severe disease, protection against mortality," he said.
Providing an update on Covid vaccination, Agarwal said 96 per cent of India's adults have been administered the first dose of the vaccine, while 76 per cent are fully vaccinated. He said 65 per cent of adolescents in the 15-18 age group have received their first dose of Covid vaccine and 21.63 lakh eligible adolescents have been given the second dose.
Also, 1.35 crore precaution doses have been administered to healthcare workers, frontline workers and those aged 60 and above with co-morbidities.
In 16 states and union territories, 100 per cent of the eligible population has been covered with first dose, while in four, 96 to 99 per cent have been administered the first dose. In six states and UTs, 100 per cent population has been covered with the second dose, Agarwal said.
On more deaths being reported in Kerala, Agarwal said it is a matter of concern and discussions have been held with the state on the matter. From October last year till February, 24,700 deaths have been shown as backlog deaths by Kerala.
If backlog deaths come on a continued basis then it becomes difficult to understand how the case management was and what more needs to be done, he said.
"Guidance has been given to states. So this may come up as a challenge that if these deaths were reported back then, maybe if we made additional efforts then they could have been managed, and we are in talks with the state on the matter and told them that deaths must be immediately reported," Agarwal said.
On vaccination of those in the 12-15 age group, Paul said, "Clearly as our vaccine strategy with time is evolving, so our agenda has been that children can get vaccinated. Trials are being conducted of vaccines on peadiatric population. The vaccination programme is carried out in systematic way. It is constantly being viewed how the vaccination programme can be expanded towards the younger age group but it has to be done at a time when other higher priority objectives have been achieved."
On whether the peak has passed, Agarwal said, "We have shown you that in the past 14 days, we are noting a consistent decline but still there are states and pockets reporting more cases. Hence we must keep our focus on principles of covid management."
On Zydus Cadila supplying to India, Agarwal said seven states have been prioritised and it will soon reach in Bihar, and it will be watched, and as delivery is made in market accordingly, its use will start.
On the plan for expansion of the precaution dose, Paul said, "Vaccination implementation is prioritised, and right now, we are trying to accomplish the assigned group."