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Contraction in spread of Covid, says Govt

The Government on Thursday, for the first time, said the pandemic situation has improved and there is a contraction in the spread of Covid infection.

The peak of the third Covid-19 wave driven by the highly transmissible coronavirus variant Omicron is slightly lower than that of the second wave which proved deadly to many.

Daily Covid cases crossed four lakh when India reached the second wave’s peak, Health Ministry’s Joint Secretary Lav Agarwal told reporters here. In contrast, the country on Thursday reported 1.72 lakh fresh cases, half the cases recorded on January 21, which was the peak, according to the Government. Cases have been falling since then.

“We are seeing a decline in (Covid) cases. We don’t want to use words like wave and peak. There are still some areas where cases are increasing. Covid management strategies still need to be implemented because overall we are still seeing a high number of cases,” Agarwal said, on whether the third wave peak has been reached.

He said a decline in the Covid fatality rate has been noted with an increase in the vaccine doses. Daily Covid cases in the two weeks between January 21 and February 3 have fallen by 50 per cent from 3,47,254 to 1,72,433.

During the same period, the positivity rate or the number of infections per 100 tests fell by 39 per cent from 17.94 per cent to 10.99 per cent, which shows a clear decline in daily positivity rate indicating the decreased spread of Covid infection.

Although the number of districts with a positivity rate of over 10 per cent has fallen from over 400 a week ago to less than 300 now, two States – Kerala and Mizoram – are reporting an increase in positivity rate and cases.

The Government said data indicate that unlike in the previous Covid surge, the current coronavirus variant surgery is safe and not associated with higher chances of complications in or deaths of Covid patients. “Patients who need surgery need not be denied surgical intervention presently,” the official added.

A higher number of younger patients were admitted to hospitals in the third wave, the Government said, adding treatment showed significantly improved outcomes and lesser complications.

“A comparatively younger population with an average age of 44 years has been infected more in this Covid wave,” ICMR DG Balram Bhargava said, adding that there was significantly less use of drugs for treatment this time. Bhargava said in this Covid wave, sore throats were seen more in the patients.

34 States and UTs including Karnataka, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu are recording a decline in Covid-19 cases and positivity rate, data shows that 297 districts are still reporting Covid-19 positivity rate of over 10 per cent while 169 districts have a positivity rate between 5-10 per cent. In 268 districts, the positivity rate is below five percent, the official said, adding that just Kerala and Mizoram are witnessing an increase in the number of cases and positivity.

Agarwal said, “India is witnessing a consistent decrease in daily new cases in the last 14 days while the number of daily active cases is also decreasing rapidly. In the week ending February 2, there are 297 districts in India reporting a Covid test positivity rate of more than 10 percent, down from January 26 when there were 406 districts in India.

“During the same period, the number of districts reporting 5-10 per cent test positivity rate meanwhile has increased from 145 to 169. In this period, the number of districts reporting under 5 per cent case positivity rate has also increased from 183 to 268.”

According to the data, 16 States/UTs have achieved 100 per cent first dose vaccination coverage and four States/UTs between 96-99 per cent.

Earlier, the Ministry refuted as “misleading” reports which claimed that 50 lakh unused Covishield doses may go waste by the end of this month. “The Centre had proactively advised all state governments to review the availability of vaccines, right from the start of the vaccination drive against Covid-19, to ensure that the wastage of doses is reduced to a minimum,” it said in a statement. Public News Service

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