COVID … Nation on maximum alert after minister’s death; all-India caseload at over 57 lakh


By KS Shankar/New Delhi

NEW DELHI: With the demise of a Union minister after he was hit by Covid-19 pandemic, India is now on a double alert; its spirits sinking further. Notably, former president Pranab Mukherjee’s demise a month ago was also partly linked to Covid. Alert levels are steadily being raised in worst-hit states, as the next three months would be critical, by when one or other vaccine could hopefully stop the virus in its tracks.

There was a sense of foreboding as India reported 86,508 new Covid cases on Friday, taking the tally past the 57-lakh mark, the Union Health Ministry said, while the day also saw reporting of 1,129 deaths. The nation’s recovery rate is high; a matter of some satisfaction.  

Union Health ministry said that with 87,374 people having beaten Covid-19, the number of total recoveries remains more than the number of new infections for the sixth consecutive day on Thursday. The total coronavirus recoveries now stand at 46,74,987. There is relief in the fact that the overall recovery rate in the country is steadily going up, and has crossed 81 per cent.

The nation’s principal commercial hub, Mumbai, continues to reel under the impact of the Covid spread. The state government of Uddhav Thackeray, is at its wits’ end as the city remained mostly closed for the past six months at a stretch. Local train services, the lifeline of the sprawling city, remains suspended and people mostly remain indoors. A plea by the restaurant owners to allow resumption of dining-in facility was turned down by the state government yet again, for fear it would further complicate the pandemic scenario. The eastern metropolis of Kolkata, set for the Durga Puja celebrations, will play it down for the first time in recent memory, as the Covid scenario remains grim there too. In Delhi, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal stated that the capital is currently through a second wave of the pandemic spread and maximum alert is called for.   

While India’s number of deaths appears to be small in comparison to the massive spread, the per day deaths is one of the highest in the world. “On the brighter side, active cases in India are falling rapidly and the number of daily recoveries has exceeded the number of cases that are being registered, the health ministry has said.

Active Coronavirus cases in the worst-hit Maharashtra were at 2,74,404, Karnataka at 95,568, Andhra Pradesh 69,353, Uttar Pradesh 61,300 and Tamil Nadu 46,404. Meanwhile, the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare stated on Friday that 75 per cent of the new coronavirus cases in India are concentrated in 10 states and UTs. 

The ministry also said that 10 states and UTs are reporting 74 per cent of new recoveries. Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka are among states reporting higher numbers of recoveries and new Covid cases. 

Globally, over 32 million people have been infected with as many as 981,808 fatalities and the pandemic’s march is still on, eight months after it surfaced in China’s Wuhan city. India remains as the second worst-hit country after the United States, but tops the global chart in terms of virus recoveries.  

While the country as a whole, and the five states with maximum caseloads, have been reporting a decline in the number of active Covid cases in the last few days, Kerala, once feted for its effective containment measures, has been among the big trouble spots in the last few weeks. With a daily growth rate of 3.38 per cent, Kerala has currently been adding numbers at a rate faster than every other state, except Chhattisgarh. The national growth rate happens to be just 1.63 per cent per day right now, which means Kerala is growing at more than twice the national rate. However, with better health care facilities, the Covid-linked death toll in Kerala is only in the range of 600, in total so far.


India is among the nations in the forefront of global efforts to develop a vaccine. Apart from bringing some of the leading contenders of a coronavirus vaccine to India, the Serum Institute is developing its own vaccine. It is partnering with SpyBiotech, a spin-off of Oxford University, for this purpose. Their vaccine candidate has entered into combined phase-I/phase-II clinical trials, being done in Australia. The trials began in the first week of September.

Serum also has the licence to produce and market two of the leading vaccine candidates, one being developed by AstraZeneca and the Oxford University, and the other one by US company Novavax. The Oxford University vaccine is currently undergoing phase-II and phase-II trials in India.   


Meanwhile, celebrated singer SP Balasubramaniam is on maximum life support after his condition deteriorated in the last 24 hours, Chennai’s MGM Healthcare hospital said in a medical bulletin. The singer’s close friend, actor Kamal Haasan, visited the hospital Thursday night. SPB, as the singer is fondly called, has been in hospital since August 5 after testing positive for Covid-19. The 74-year-old singer has recovered from the virus-hit. He  tested negative on September 8, but he could not be taken off the ventilator because of the condition of his lungs, son SP Charan said.

The novel coronavirus has killed at least 978,448 people since the outbreak emerged in China last December, according to a tally from official sources compiled by AFP at 1100 GMT on Thursday. At least 31,975,020 cases of coronavirus have been registered. Of these, at least 21,891,500 are now certified as recovered.


On Wednesday, 6,318 new deaths and 304,210 new cases were recorded worldwide. Based on latest reports, the countries with the most new deaths were United States with 1,228 new deaths, followed by India with 1,129 and Brazil with 869. The United States is the worst-hit country with 201,910 deaths from 6,934,233 cases. At least 2,670,256 people have been declared recovered.

After the US, the hardest-hit countries are Brazil with 138,977 deaths from 4,624,885 cases, India with 91,149 deaths from 5,732,518 cases, Mexico with 74,949 deaths from 710,049 cases, and United Kingdom with 41,862 deaths from 409,729 cases. –IHN-NN


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