Maharashtra and Punjab are of grave concern, says Health Ministry amid spike in COVID-19 cases

New Delhi: Amid a spike in COVID-19 cases, the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare on Wednesday (March 24, 2021) said that two states – Maharashtra and Punjab are of grave concern.

“Two states – Maharashtra and Punjab are of grave concern that have shown a recent surge in new cases,” said MoHWF in a press briefing. 

“Punjab is worrisome because new cases are more in comparison to the population,” Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan said.

In Maharashtra, Pune, Nagpur, Mumbai, Thane, and Nashik are the worrisome districts, while in Punjab, Jalandhar, SAS Nagar, Ludhiana, Patiala, and Hoshiarpur are showing a massive surge.

The MoHFW stated that Maharashtra, the worst coronavirus-hit state in India, reported the highest 28,699 cases in the last 24 hours followed by Punjab at 2,254 cases.

Bhushan said that there are roughly three per cent active cases of COVID-19 and these are concentrated mainly in 10 districts — nine in Maharashtra and one in Karnataka.

He also informed that about 88 per cent of all COVID-19 deaths in the country are in the age group of 45 years and above, making them the most vulnerable section that needs to be protected. Bhushan said that the case fatality rate in this age group is 2.85 per cent.

He added that this is the reason behind allowing vaccination for those above 45 years from April 1.

The National Centre for Disease Control Director SK Singh also spoke in the press conference and commented on the new coronavirus variants. He said 771 variants of concern (VOCs) have been detected in 18 states and union territories, which include 736 samples positive for viruses of the UK (B.1.1.7) lineage.

“States having a larger pool of susceptible population are prone to witness a rise in cases. Whenever the susceptible population will lower their guard and not follow COVID-19-appropriate behaviour, they will get the infection, be it the normal virus or the mutants,” he said.

He added, “There are only three variants of concern, detected in the UK, South Africa and Brazil. In addition to these, some other variants of interest have also been found in some states, including Maharashtra and Delhi, which need to be further analysed and investigated.”

Meanwhile, India recorded 47,262 new coronavirus cases, taking the nationwide COVID-19 tally to 1,17,34,058, as per the Union Health Ministry. This is the highest reported single-day rise for the year 2021. 

The active caseload too rose sharply for the 14th consecutive day and was recorded at 3,68,457, comprising 3.14 per cent of the total infections. On the other hand, the recovery rate further dropped to 95.49 per cent.

Earlier on Tuesday, the MoHFW said that more than 5 crore coronavirus vaccine doses have been given across India, a milestone that has been achieved on the 67th day of the COVID-19 vaccination drive.

(With inputs from agencies)

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