India becomes fourth most-affected country by COVID-19 as cases near 2.9 lakh; govt denies community transmission, says lockdown prevented rapid spread

The nationwide COVID-19 case count neared 2.9 lakh on Thursday with a record one-day increase of nearly 10,000 cases taking the count of infections detected this month to almost one lakh.

Media reports said that India now has the fourth-highest number of cases in the world according to a tally maintained by Worldometer. The country is now behind only the US, Brazil and Russia.

The government, however, said the virus infection has not entered the community transmission stage as the lockdown and containment measures prevented a rapid spread. The country’s first sero-survey on COVID-19 spread has found that lockdown and containment measures were successful in preventing a rapid rise in infections, but a large proportion of the population still remains susceptible, the government said.

On the positive side, the number of recoveries exceeded the active cases for the second consecutive day. The ministry said the number of active cases stood at 1,37,448 as of 8 AM on Thursday, as against more than 1.4 lakh having recovered so far — giving a recovery rate of over 49.2 per cent.

India not in community transmission stage, says ICMR

At a press briefing on the COVID-19 situation in the country, the government officials said India is definitely not in the community transmission stage of COVID-19 spread.

Citing results from the country’s first sero-survey on the COVID-19 spread, Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) Director General Balram Bhargava said that the people living in urban areas face higher risks than those in the rural parts of the country, while the risk is even higher for those in the urban slums.

The survey also found a high infection rate within the containment zones, but the fatality rate was found to be very low overall at just 0.08 per cent.

Since a large proportion of the population is susceptible and infection can spread, non-pharmacological interventions such as physical distancing, use of face mask or cover, hand hygiene, cough etiquette must be followed strictly, Bhargava said.

Urban slums are highly vulnerable for spread of the infection and local lockdown measures therefore need to continue, he said.

The elderly people, children below 10 years of age, people with chronic morbidities and pregnant women also fall in the high-risk category, he said.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO) data, the countries that have seen community transmission of the virus infection include the US, the UK, Spain, Italy, Germany, Turkey, France, South Africa, Brazil, Mexico, Canada, Sweden, Switzerland, Bangladesh, Indonesia and Philippines.

Many of these countries have lower case count than India, but figure among the nations having witnessed ”community transmission” — a term typically used when a clear-cut contact tracing cannot be established for a large number of confirmed cases of infection.

For India, the transmission classification used by the WHO is ”cluster of cases”, which it describes as a stage where a country experiences cases “clustered in time, geographic location and/or by common exposures”.

State-wise cases

Delhi reported a record number of 1,877 new coronavirus cases, pushing its tally over 34,000, while the death mounted to 1,085, authorities said.

In Odisha, 136 more people, including 54 disaster response personnel who were engaged in cyclone Amphan relief work in West Bengal, tested positive, raising the state”s tally to 3,386.

Uttar Pradesh reported 24 more coronavirus deaths and 478 new cases, the biggest single-day spike in both numbers so far for the state. The death toll in the state now is 345 after three consecutive days of record highs, while the case count has reached 12,088.

Tamil Nadu reported 1,875 new cases and 23 deaths during the day, While Kerala reported 83 new fresh cases and one fatality.

New cases also emerged in Puducherry, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Haryana, Jammu & Kashmir, Odisha, Assam, Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Mizoram and Manipur, among other states and UTs.

Three new cases also emerged in Andaman and Nicobar Islands, which is seeing a new wave of the infection after remaining free of the infection for almost a month. The new cases are family members of a person who returned from Chennai in a flight on June 7 and had subsequently tested positive. On that day, another returnee from Delhi had also tested positive.

Mumbai’s COVID-19 tally rose by 1,540 to reach 53,985, while its death toll rose by 97 to 1,952. Overall, Maharashtra recorded 3,607 new cases to take its tally to 97,648, while its death toll rose to 3,590 with 152 fatalities recorded during the day.

In the neighbouring Gujarat, the tally rose to 22,067 with the addition of 513 new cases in the last 24 hours, while the toll increased to 1,385, the state health department said.

Over 1.65 lakh stranded Indians returned under Vande Bharat Mission

A total of 1,65,375 people have returned, including 29,034 migrant workers under Vande Bharat Mission, said Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Anurag Srivastava on Thursday.

He added that the rate of repatriation will see a rise in June.

“A total of 1,65,375 people have returned, including 29,034 migrant workers, 12,774 students and 11,241 professionals. The rate of repatriation will be more in June,” said Srivastava during an online press briefing.

“Apart from Air India flights, repatriation has also been arranged through other streams like Indian naval vessels which have brought back our nationals from Sri Lanka, the Maldives and Iran through foreign carriers coming to India to pick up nationals from other countries, through chartered flights and from land borders. As part of the Vande Bharat Mission, the INS Shardul has returned to Gujarat from Iran carrying 233 stranded Indian nationals,” he added.

Srivastava said that under the third phase of Vande Bharat Mission, 432 international flights from 43 countries will be reaching 17 states and UTs.

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