The nationwide tally of confirmed COVID-19 cases crossed 1.6 lakh on Thursday to make India the world’s ninth worst hit country by the deadly virus infection, while the death toll went past 4,600 to near China’s official count of 4,634 fatalities.
The first case of the deadly virus infection was discovered in China last December and since then it has spread to virtually all parts of the world infecting more than 57 lakh people globally. More than 3.5 lakh have died too across the world, but very few new cases are being reported in China for the last few days.
According to China’s official tally, its total number of confirmed cases stood at nearly 83,000 while the deadly virus has claimed 4,634 lives so far there.
In its morning 8 AM update, the Union Health Ministry said the death toll due to COVID-19 across India has risen to 4,531 and the number of cases has climbed to 1,58,333, registering an increase of 194 deaths and 6,566 cases in the 24 hours since Wednesday 8 AM.
It put the number of active COVID-19 cases at more than 86,000 and recoveries at 67,691, giving a recovery rate of around 42.75 per cent.
However, a PTI tally of figures announced by different states and union territories, as of 9.30 PM, showed the number of confirmed cases rising by more than 7,000 to 1,60,666 and the death toll increasing by 187 to 4,633. It also showed more than 70,000 recoveries.
However, an online real-time map maintained by Johns Hopkins University & Medicine, put India’s death toll further higher at 4,653, as of 9.45 PM, and ahead of China’s count of fatalities at 4,638 as per its tracker.
India has now overtaken Turkey as the ninth worst hit country in terms of total number of cases. India’s count of recoveries is the tenth largest now after the US, Brazil, Germany, Russia, Spain, Italy, Turkey, Iran and China.
In terms of total number of confirmed cases, the US is the worst hit with over 17 lakh cases, while other countries with more cases than India are Brazil, Russia, UK, Spain, Italy, France and Germany. While Turkey is now ranked 10th, China is at 14th place and below Iran, Peru and Canada.
The US also tops the death toll with more than 1 lakh fatalities, followed by UK, Italy, France, Spain, Brazil, Belgium, Mexico, Germany and Iran in the top ten. India is ranked 13th now after Canada and Netherlands at the 11th and 12th places, respectively.
In terms of active case, India’s tally is the fifth biggest in the world after the US, Russia, Brazil and France. However, India has also done better than many other countries in terms of the absolute number of tests conducted cumulatively and is placed at the seventh place globally. However, when it comes to the quantum of tests in proportion to the population, India does not figure even among the top-100 countries.
More than 33 lakh tests have been conducted so far in India, as compared to over 1.5 crore in the US, over 97 lakh in Russia, nearly 40 lakh in Germany, close to 38 lakh in the UK, over 36 lakh in Italy and over 35 lakh in Spain.
In China, more than 65 lakh people have been tested and now the country has a total of 413 asymptomatic cases under medical observation, including 344 in Wuhan, known as the epicentre of the deadly virus infection.
The count of cases has spiked up in India this month, during which large-scale movement of people began via special trains and flights and also because of easing of various restrictions during the ongoing fourth phase of the nationwide lockdown. Many states have attributed the rising numbers to the influx of people from outside.
The lockdown has been in place since March 25, which was initially imposed for 21 days but has been extended thrice already and the fourth phase will end on May 31.
A decision on the future course of action on the lockdown is expected soon. The Union Cabinet Secretary Rajiv Gauba also held a meeting with municipal commissioners and district magistrates of the 13 worst hit cities in the country, including Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata and Chennai.
Delhi reported a record number of 1,024 new cases to take its tally to 16,281, while its death toll rose to 3165. This is the first time that the national capital has witnessed 1,000-plus new cases for a day.
According to an official estimate, nearly 23 lakh people, who have moved within the country or arrived from international destinations during the ongoing nationwide lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic, are currently in quarantine facilities arranged by states and union territories.
While the majority of the state governments and union territory administrations have made at least seven days’ quarantine compulsory for anyone arriving in their jurisdiction, a few of them have opted for home quarantine for those reaching their administrative limits.
Maharashtra has the highest number of people in quarantine facilities — 6.02 lakh — followed by Gujarat, which has kept a total of 4.42 lakh people in quarantine centres.
According to the government, a total of 91 lakh migrant labourers were transported by trains and buses from various places to different destinations across the country during the lockdown till Wednesday.
The states that have been attributing the surge in cases to the influx of people from outside include West Bengal, Kerala, Assam, Bihar, Odisha, Karnataka, Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Manipur, Nagaland and Arunachal Pradesh.
West Bengal recorded its biggest single-day spike of 344 fresh COVID-19 cases on Thursday, taking its tally to 4,536.
The worst-hit state Maharashtra reported 2,598 new cases to take its tally to 59,546, while its death toll rose to 1,982 with 85 more fatalities reported during the day.
Gujarat reported 367 new 19 cases, pushing its tally to 15,572; while 22 more patients succumbed to take the death toll to 960.
Jammu and Kashmir also saw 115 new cases, taking its tally to 2,036, while Madhya Pradesh reported 192 fresh cases taking its total count of COVID-19 patients to 7,453.
In Andhra Pradesh, 128 fresh cases were detected to take its tally to 3,245, while its death toll rose to 59.
Maharashtra tops the count of confirmed cases as well as of COVID-19 deaths.
K VijayRaghavan, Principal Scientific Adviser to the Government of India, said an aggressive testing and contact tracing will be very important once the lockdown is eased further, given the absence of a vaccine.
He, however, said nearly 30 groups in India, ranging from big industry players to individual academics, are trying to develop vaccines to fight the novel coronavirus.
Without naming any entity, he said some players are at a pre-clinical stage and may reach the clinical stage by October.
He said vaccine development currently takes nearly 10 years and costs around USD 200-300 million, but the aim the world over is to find a vaccine for coronavirus in a year.
“Instead of working on one vaccine and seeing whether it works for a 10-year period, and investing on that, we have to invest in 100 vaccines (development). The world is investing on more than 100 vaccines at the same time,” he said, adding that the entire process will now cost USD 2-3 billion.