As India entered Unlock 4.0 on Tuesday, the total coronavirus case count in India rose to 36,91,166 with 69,921 people testing positive in 24 hours. The toll due COVID-19 climbed to 65,288 with 819 new fatalities while the recovery rate increased to 76.94 percent with 65,081 persons recuperating in 24 hours, the health ministry data updated at 8 am showed.
Five states " Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Uttar Pradesh " accounted for over half of the fresh COVID-19 cases and close to 60 percent of the recoveries reported in the last 24 hours, the Union health ministry said.
Cumulatively, these five states reported 536 deaths in a day which is over 65 percent of the total fatalities registered in the country during the period.
In the 24 hours between 8 am on Monday and on Tuesday, Maharashtra reported 11,852 new coronavirus infections, Andhra Pradesh 10,004, Karnataka 6,495, Tamil Nadu 5,956 and Uttar Pradesh 4,782. Together, they account for 56 percent of the cases added in a day, the official statistics revealed.
These five states have also reported the maximum number of patients that were cured and discharged in 24 hours, cumulatively accounting for 58.04 percent of the total 65,081 people who have recovered during the 24-hour period across the country.
While Maharashtra reported 11,158 recoveries in a day, the corresponding figures for Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka stand at 8,772 and 7,238 respectively. Tamil Nadu registered 6,008 recoveries, while Uttar Pradesh reported 4,597.
While the recovery rate in the country neared 77 percent, the case fatality rate has further dropped to 1.77 percent, said the health ministry. The number of recoveries is 3.61 times the active cases of the viral infection.
According to the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), a cumulative 4,33,24,834 samples have been tested up to 31 August, with 10,16,920 of them being tested on Monday.
In Delhi, which reported its biggest single-day jump in nearly two months, the third round of the monthly sero-survey kicked off. Health minister Satyendra Jain said the all 272 wards and two Assembly areas in the state will be covered to arrive at a micro-level analysis of the situation.
Tripura, Chhattisgarh were among other states which reported a record rise in cases on Tuesday. While Tripura registered 509 fresh infections and 10 fatalities, 1,694 more tested positive in Haryana while 17 succumbed to the infection.
Karnataka allows bars to re-open, Uttar Pradesh revises weekend lockdown
As the country entered the fourth phase of the "unlocking" process, with more activities and services, the Uttar Pradesh government announced that markets would remain shut only in Sundays instead of on the weekends, while the Karnataka government said it has allowed bars, pubs to resume services with 50 percent capacity from Tuesday.
The Unlock process of the country had begun on 1 June with the graded reopening of commercial, social, religious and other activities. Unlock 4 came into effect from 1 September and will continue till 30 September.
The Karnataka government has allowed bars, pubs, clubs and restaurants in the state to serve liquor from Tuesday with 50 percent of their seating capacity.
There were restrictions on serving liquor since March, when the lockdown was first imposed , and until now only takeaways were allowed at these establishments.
The order by the Excise Commissioner said that such relaxations were already in place in states like Assam, Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan. It also cited the government's revenue as one of the reasons behind the decision.
Bars also opened in Goa, Tamil Nadu and West Bengal.
State-run buses were running again in Tamil Nadu capital Chennai, while places of worship, parks, shopping malls, hotels and clubs too reopened across the state.
In Uttar Pradesh, shops will remain closed only on Sundays, instead of the two-day weekend lockdown, said Additional Chief Secretary (Home) Awanish Awasthi. "The chief minister has instructed that there will be no weekly closure on Saturdays, and shops can remain open from 9 am to 9 pm. However, shops will remain closed on Sundays from midnight of Saturday to midnight of Sunday," he said.
The government had in July announced that shops and offices would remain closed on Saturdays and Sundays to stop the spread of the coronavirus infection.
However, under the recently released Unlock-4 guidelines, the MHA said that states should not impose lockdowns outside containment zones without taking the Centre into confidence.
In line with the directives, Madhya Pradesh revoked its decision on Sunday lockdowns but West Bengal decided to go ahead with a total shutdown on three days in September. Punjab too announced that existing restrictions like weekend curbs and night curfew will continue in all towns of the state.
States like Maharashtra and Nagaland allowed intra-state travel while many states, including West Bengal and Delhi said that Metro services will be allowed to resume. However, Delhi has decided to maintain status quo on all other restrictions and has not not issued fresh guidelines.
Railways to run more special trains
Meanwhile, to ease passenger movement in high-demand areas, the Railways said it will run more special trains in addition to the 230 plying currently, The consent for running these trains has been sought from state governments, said an official. The Railway ministry spokesperson, however, did not say how many trains will be added to the network.
Currently, all regular passenger services are suspended due to the coronavirus crisis.
Tripura, Chhattisgarh report record rise in daily cases
Several states including Maharashtra, Delhi, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu recorded fresh infections and deaths.
Tripura registered its highest single-day spike in COVID-19 cases with 509 new cases, while a record 10 fresh fatalities pushed the northeastern state's coronavirus toll to 113, a health official told news agency PTI. The fresh infections have taken the state's COVID-19 caseload to 12,156, he said.
Chhattisgarh witnessed the biggest spike in COVID-19 cases in a single-day with 1,514 people testing positive on Tuesday, taking the tally to 33,017, while 10 more patients died, pushing up the fatalities to 287, a health department official told PTI.
The state has 15,163 active cases at present as 17,567 people have been discharged after recovery, he said.
The National Capital recorded its biggest spurt in daily cases in nearly two months, with 2,312 fresh COVID-19 cases, taking the total to over 1.77 lakh. The toll mounted to 4462 with 18 fatalities, said a bulletin issued by the Delhi health department.
Maharashtra's caseload surpassed eight lakh (8,08,306) with 15,765 more testing positive, while the toll reached 24,903 with 320 deaths.
As many as 10,368 new coronavirus cases and 84 deaths were reported in Andhra Pradesh, taking the state's tally to 4,45,139 and toll to 4,053.
Tamil Nadu reported 5,928 new COVID cases pushing the total to 4,33,969, while the toll stood at 7,418 with 96 more fatalities. Of the over 5,900 new infections, the state capital reported 1,084 and the remaining were scattered across Tamil Nadu. The state tally of 4.33 lakh plus positive cases till date includes Chennai's 1,36,697 infections.
80% of Chennai population still susceptible to infection, finds study
A sero-survey in Chennai found that over a fifth of the city's population had been exposed to SARS-CoV-2 and around 80 percent of the population was still susceptible to the infection, said the Greater Chennai Corporation.
The sample size was around 12,000, of which 2,673 individuals had evidence of past SARS-CoV-2, it informed. The field data / sample collection activities happened between 18 and 28 July and the testing of the samples were completed by 6 August, the GCC said in an official release adding that samples were collected from individuals above the age of 10.
"The reading (inference) is 21.5 percent of Chennai's population reached the immunity levels by July-end," GCC commissioner G Prakash told reporters. "Now, the (immunity) levels will be more and it would also mean a (comparatively) lower transmission rate," he said adding the scientific study would be useful to alter strategies to tackle COVID here.
Around 80 percent of the population is still susceptible to SARS-CoV-2 in Chennai and "we need to understand the reasons for varying sero- prevalence across zones to improve our control measures," the civic body said. "There is huge variation in seroprevalence across zones ranging between 7.1 percent in Madhavaram and 44.2 percent in Tondiarpet," it said.
Sero-surveys involve testing of blood serum of people to check for the prevalence of antibodies which indicate past exposure to the virus.
Previous such surveys have found that 51 percent of the population in five areas of Pune had developed anti-bodies while in Mumbai, there was a 57 percent sero-prevalence in slums and 16 percent sero-prevalence in non-slum areas.
Delhi begins latest round of sero-survey
Delhi which has in the past conducted two rounds of such a survey, began the lastest round on Tuesday. The sample size this time will be 17,000 and the exercise will be carried out for seven days, said the state's health minister.
"The fresh round of sero-survey began today. This time we will be doing it ward-wise, so all 272 municipal wards of Delhi will be covered, plus two Assembly areas. Sampling will be done for a week. After that, results should come in 7-10 days," Jain said.
The previous surveys were done district-wise. But this time, it is being done ward-wise to analyse the COVID-19 situation in the city at a "micro-level", he said.
The last sero-prevalence survey was held between 1 and 7 August, which showed that 29.1 percent of the people surveyed had antibodies against the coronavirus infection.
With inputs from PTI