Coronavirus: India reports 1.73L cases, lowest surge in 45 days
India's daily coronavirus case count continued to reduce as it reported 1.73 lakh fresh infections in the past 24 hours - the lowest surge in 45 days. Daily cases in India had peaked at 4,14,000 just a few weeks ago as a ferocious second wave was devastating the country. However, the daily death toll remains high, with 3,617 more fatalities reported today.
India's overall COVID-19 tally now stands at 2,77,29,247 and the death toll has surpassed 3,22,000, according to the official government data. The daily test positivity rate has fallen to 8.35%. Tamil Nadu contributed the most to India's latest coronavirus surge, with 31,079 reported cases in the past 24 hours. It is followed by Karnataka (22,823 infections), Kerala (22,318), Maharashtra (20,740), and Andhra Pradesh (14,429).
Saturday marked the second consecutive day that India logged less than two lakh new cases of the coronavirus. In fact, the positivity rate has been under 10% for the past five days now.
Even as India's deadly second wave continues to weaken in most parts of the country, a sluggish vaccination drive remains the country's biggest challenge in ending the pandemic. The central government maintains it will vaccinate over a billion Indians this year. However, only 20 crore doses have been administered so far and just above 3% of the Indian population has been fully vaccinated.
Production of COVAXIN - India's only approved indigenous vaccine - will reach six crore doses by July/August, according to an official statement. India is also looking to import a large chunk of the vaccines needed to vaccinate its huge population - it is holding discussions with American company Pfizer to secure around five crore doses starting July. Talks with other companies are also underway.
Even as the vaccination program remains slow, several Indian states are planning to ease lockdown curbs. National capital Delhi, which has been under a lockdown since April 19, will start reopening in a phased manner starting Monday, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal has announced. The lockdown in Maharashtra - India's worst-hit state in the outbreak - has been extended, however, some relaxations could be expected.