New Delhi: The death toll due to COVID-19 rose to 2,752 and the number of cases climbed to 85,940 on Saturday, registering an increase of 103 deaths and 3,970 cases in the last 24 hours, according to the Union health ministry. This means India has now overtaken China in terms of the total number of cases reported – China’s number stands at 84,038.
The number of active cases in India stood at 53,035, while 30,152 people have recovered and one patient has migrated, it said. “Thus, around 35.08% patients have recovered so far,” a senior health ministry official said.
The total confirmed cases include foreign nationals too.
Of the 103 deaths reported since Friday morning, 49 were in Maharashtra, 20 in Gujarat, 10 in West Bengal, eight in Delhi, seven in Uttar Pradesh, five in Tamil Nadu, two in Madhya Pradesh, one each in Karnataka and Himachal Pradesh.
Of the 2,752 fatalities, Maharashtra tops the tally with 1,068 deaths, Gujarat comes second with 606 deaths, followed by Madhya Pradesh at 239, West Bengal at 225, Rajasthan at 125, Delhi at 123, Uttar Pradesh at 95, Tamil Nadu at 71 and Andhra Pradesh at 48.
The death toll reached 36 in Karnataka, 34 in Telangana and 32 in Punjab, the ministry said.
Haryana and Jammu and Kashmir have reported 11 fatalities each due to the disease, while Bihar has registered seven and Kerala has reported four deaths.
Jharkhand, Chandigarh, Himachal Pradesh and Odisha have recorded three COVID-19 fatalities each, while Assam has reported two deaths.
Meghalaya, Uttarakhand and Puducherry have reported one fatality each, according to the ministry data.
More than 70% of the deaths are “due to co-morbidities” (existence of multiple disorders), the ministry added.
So far the death rate in India appears far better, according to health ministry data, with 2,752 fatalities reported, compared with China’s 4,600. The toll in the United States, United Kingdom and Italy is much higher.
Health minister Harsh Vardhan was also encouraged by the slowing rate of infection, as it now takes 11 days for the number of cases to double, whereas before the lockdown cases were doubling every 3 1/2 days.
“Clearly the situation has improved due to lockdown. We have utilised this period of lockdown to accelerate public health measures such as case detection, contact tracing, isolation and management of cases,” Vardhan said.
Indian officials say the low death rate could be because a majority of people infected with the virus were either asymptomatic or had mild symptoms and that the vast shutdown imposed early on had helped avoid a major catastrophe.
These are also the most important economic centres of the country, complicating the government’s task as it tries to re-open without triggering a big spurt in infections.
“India is still in the growth phase, since total cases are still rising. Active cases are growing at 3.8% (daily) – and this needs to fall to 0% and decline subsequently for the country to recover overall,” Shamika Ravi, a Brookings expert and former member of the Indian Prime Minister’s Economic Advisory Council, said.
One area of concern has been India’s low testing in relation to its large population, public health officials say. The country has ramped up testing since the beginning of April to 100,000 this week, but with 1.3 billion people on a per capita basis it is trailing far behind other major countries such as the United States, the United Kingdom and Italy.
Crowds at Wuhan clinics fear coronavirus testing could rekindle disease
As Wuhan, the Chinese city where the COVID-19 pandemic began, revs up a massive testing campaign, some residents crowding the test centres expressed concern on Saturday that the very act of getting tested could expose them to the coronavirus.
Safety has become a hot topic on social media groups among the 11 million residents of Wuhan, people told Reuters as they converged on open-air test sites at clinics and other facilities. Many said, though, that they support the voluntary campaign.
Wuhan health authorities sprang back into action after confirming last weekend the central Chinese city’s first cluster of new infections since it was released from virtual lockdown on April 8.
The new cases – all of them people who had previously shown no symptoms of the disease – spurred Wuhan authorities to launch a citywide search for asymptomatic carriers of the virus, aiming to gauge the level of COVID-19 risk.
“Some people have expressed worry in the (social media) groups about the tests, which require people to cluster, and whether there’s any infection risk,” said one Wuhan resident who asked not to be named.
“But others rebutted those worries, saying such comments are not supportive of the government.”
The unprecedented scale of testing indicates the official level of concern, some experts say. Others say it is an extremely costly exercise and question its effectiveness.
(With agency inputs)