The Centre has written to States — Kerala, Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Punjab and J&K — which are witnessing a daily surge in the number of daily COVID-19 cases directing an increase in proportion of RT-PCR tests while ensuring that those testing negative with Rapid Antigen be retested by RT-PCR.
Here are the latest updates:
Tamil Nadu steps up vigil at border following surge of cases in Kerala
With neighbouring Kerala and four other States in the country witnessing a surge in daily Coronavirus cases, the Tamil Nadu government said surveillance in districts bordering Kerala has been intensified and it has been made mandatory for all returnees by flight to compulsorily undergo RT-PCR test.
The State Health Department continues to aggressively test for the virus and is involved in tracing the contacts, as it is determined to further bring down the cases, Health Secretary Dr J Radhakrishnan said.
Expressing concern over non-compliance by people, including those who gather for political rallies, he appealed to the people not to lower the guard as five States in India have recorded an increase in cases.
“Wearing of masks and maintaining social distancing should strictly be followed. It was noticed during certain political meetings that the cadres did not wear face masks or follow social distancing. Such an offhand attitude could lead to unpleasant consequences,” he said and pointed out to an incident in Amaravathy district in Maharashtra where a family has been infected by the virus.
Non-adherence to COVID-19 norms behind surge in infections in Punjab, says Health officials
With Punjab witnessing an increase in the number of COVID-19 cases, health officials ascribed the upswing to people not adhering to safety guidelines like wearing masks and maintaining social distancing.
According to the State Health Department data, Punjab has recorded daily cases between 200 and 350 for the last several days.
It added almost 5,000 cases in a period of 21 days starting February 1. The number of active cases on February 21 stood at 3,019 as against 2,101 on February 1, an increase of 44%, the data showed.
“People are not following COVID-19 safety precautions like wearing masks and maintaining social distancing which is the main reason behind the surge in cases in the state,” said Rajesh Bhaskar, Punjab’s nodal officer for COVID-19.
Kochi firm PNB Vesper Life completes phase 2 clinical trial of Covid drug
PNB Vesper Life Sciences has successfully completed phase 2 clinical trials of PNB-001 (GPP-Baladol), its proprietary drug to treat the coronavirus infection and said it will soon move the government for deploying the drug for emergency use.
The company, which has its labs in England, had in early September 2020 received the approval from the Drug Controller General (DCGI) to conduct the phase 2 clinical trial of GPP-Baladol in patients with moderate infection of the pandemic with oxygen support.
The company on Monday said the clinical trial was initiated in November at BJ Government Medical College and Sassoon General Hospital in Pune, and Victoria Medical College and Research Institute in Bengaluru on 40 patients.
National positivity rate at 5.20%
India has registered a record in the number of COVID-19 cumulative tests, with over 21.15 crore samples tested, the Union Health Ministry said on Monday. The country’s national positivity rate is pegged at 5.20 per cent.
Progressive countrywide expansion in testing infrastructure has played a crucial role in the steep rise of testing numbers, the ministry underlined.
A total of 6,20,216 tests were conducted in a span of 24 hours.
NCP leader Chhagan Bhujbal tests positive
Senior Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader and Maharashtra Food and Civil Supplies Ministe, Chhagan Bhujbal is the latest among the State’s top politicos to test positive for Covid-19. After a rapid antigen test conducted on Mr. Bhujbal had returned positive, the same result was seen in the RT-PCR test. According to sources, he has been moved to Mumbai for further treatment.
Meanwhile, NCP president Sharad Pawar has cancelled all his public programmes till March 1 in the wake of the alarming spike in cases across the State.
For third day, nil case in Arunachal
Arunachal Pradesh did not report any fresh COVID-19 case in the past three days, a senior health official said on Monday.
The total caseload in the northeastern state remained at 16,836, State Surveillance Officer Lobsang Jampa said.
Arunachal Pradesh now has five active cases, while 16,775 people have recovered from the disease. A total of 56 patients have succumbed to the virus.
Altogether, 4,03,485 samples have been tested for COVID-19, including 196 on Sunday, Jampa said.
Meanwhile, State Immunisation Officer (SIO) Dimong Padung said 18,697 health and frontline workers have received vaccine shots so far.
The health department has been carrying out the inoculation drive four days a week — Monday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday.
Active coronavirus cases surge to over 1.5 lakh
India’s total tally of COVID-19 cases surpassed 1.10 crore with 14,199 new infections being reported in a day, while active cases registered an increase for the fifth consecutive day, according to the Union Health Ministry data updated on Monday, February 22, 2021
The total coronavirus cases have increased to 1,10,05,850, while the death toll increased to 1,56,385 with 83 daily new fatalities, the data updated at 8 am showed.
The number of people who have recuperated from the disease surged to 1,06,99,410 which translates to a national COVID-19 recovery rate of 97.22 per cent and the case fatality rate stands at 1.42 per cent.
Active coronavirus infections in the country increased to 1,50,055 which comprises 1.36 per cent of the total caseload, the data stated.
Maharashtra surge worrisome, says CM
Remarking that Maharashtra’s sudden and steep surge in Covid-19 cases was worrisome indeed, Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray said that the government would come to know within the next fifteen days whether or not the State was facing a ‘second wave’ of the novel coronavirus pandemic.Minister Yashomati Thakur said Amravati district in Vidarbha region would be placed under a lockdown from 8 p.m. on Monday to 8 a.m. on March 1.
Mr. Thackeray further warned that the administration would be taking strict punitive action against citizens and businesses not adhering to pandemic regulations.
Many doctors get ‘confusing’ messages on vaccination date
Many doctors who have got vaccinated are reporting that they are getting “confusing” messages about another vaccination date. While they assume that it may be the date for the second vaccination, they say that it is too close to their first dose, leaving very little gap between the two doses.
A gap of 28 days is recommended between the first and second dose.
Daily vaccination rate will soon increase exponentially, says task force member
As on February 20, nearly 10.1 million healthcare workers and frontline workers have been vaccinated. The target is to vaccinate 300 million people with two doses of COVID-19 vaccine by July, for which the daily vaccinations have to be over 1 million. However, the seven-day average is currently only 0.38 million vaccinations per day.
On January 16, when the mass COVID-19 vaccination programme began in India, only 3,352 sessions were held and 0.19 million people were vaccinated.
Mental health amid pandemic
Mental health issues triggered by COVID-19 pose a challenge, say doctors
The number of COVID-19 infections may have come down in some States but doctors across government-run health institutions are seeing a spike in patients complaining of mental health issues triggered by the virus. Among the mental health problems are depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, and trauma caused by near-death experience.
“While we are trying to contain the novel coronavirus, we have to be prepared to deal with a new pandemic caused by the COVID-19 impact on mental health. Handling of such mental health cases may continue for the next few years even after vaccination is completed,” Basudeb Das, director, Central Institute of Psychiatry, said.
(With inputs from our Correspondent and agencies)