Aggressive testing necessary, says Centre as India's COVID tally surges
The Union Health Ministry on Tuesday said that aggressive testing is required to reduce the COVID-19 positivity rate in India. The Ministry has confirmed 11.5 lakh COVID-19 cases against 1.43 crore samples tested. The Ministry also said that although India's case count is the world's third-highest, the number of deaths per million population continues to be among the lowest in the world.
As of Tuesday morning, the Health Ministry reported 11,55,191 cases, including 28,084 deaths and 7,24,578 recoveries. Rajesh Bhushan, Officer on Special Duty (OSD), Health Ministry, said during a press conference on Tuesday that India's recovery rate has been on the rise and has reached 62.72%. At 837 cases and 20.4 deaths per million population, India has fared better than other countries, Bhushan said.
Reporting more optimistic figures, Bhushan said 30 Indian states and union territories have a positivity rate lower than the national average of 8.07%. Further, 19 states/UTs are performing over 140 tests per day per million, Bhushan said, adding that aggressive testing is required to bring down the positivity rate. According to the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), 1,43,81,303 samples were tested until Monday.
In Delhi, India's worst-hit city, the 22.86% people are affected by the coronavirus while 77% of the population is susceptible to it, said National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) Director Dr. Sujeet Kumar Singh. In eight out of 11 districts, the seroprevalence is above 20% while the Central, Northeast, North, and Shahdara districts have seroprevalence of around 27%, Singh said.
During the press conference, NITI Aayog member Dr. VK Paul said that India's two COVID-19 vaccines are in phase I and II of trials. Paul assured that the process will be conducted scientifically and ethically. Paul also said that the Indian government will ensure that the local and international community has access to the vaccine as early as possible.
Bhushan also spoke about a government advisory on valved N-95 face masks. Bhushan said that the outbreak is a "rapidly-developing scenario" and explained that the latest advisory has been issued in light of new scientific studies. The advisory warned that the use of valved masks could be "detrimental" to measures adopted to prevent the spread of the viral disease.