COVID Updates: Daily cases decline by 78% decline since May peak; ICMR to start national sero survey

India has been witnessing a declining trend in daily COVID-19 cases with fresh infections remaining below one lakh for the fourth day in a row. The single-day COVID-19 toll, however, remains elevated.

At least 91,700 people tested positive for the novel coronavirus in the past 24 hours, according to the health ministry's data released on Friday. This takes the country's cumulative total to 2.92 crore.

The Union health ministry said an almost 78 percent decline in daily new COVID-19 cases has been noted in India since the highest reported peak in daily cases on 7 May. A decline of 31 percent in average daily new cases seen in the last week alone, while active cases stand at 3.83 percent of the total caseload, the ministry added.

Lav Agarwal, Joint Secretary, Health Ministry, added that there has been a 74 percent decrease in the weekly COVID-19 positivity rate since the highest such rate was reported between 30 April and 6 May at 21.6 percent.

Citing the sustained decline in daily coronavirus cases being reported and the slump in the weekly positivity rate, the Centre said the COVID-19 situation in the country "appears to be stabilising", but urged people by following the appropriate behaviour and social distancing norms.

"Breaking the chain of transmission ensures lesser strain on the health infrastructure and better quality of care," he said.

Meanwhile, recoveries in the last 24 hours remained higher at nearly 1.35 lakh, taking active caseload lower to 11.2 lakh. The recovery rate has increased to 94.93 percent.

ICMR to start national serosurveys, says health ministry

The ICMR will start national-level serosurveys to assess the spread of COVID-19 and all states and Union Territories should be encouraged to conduct them so that information from all geographies can be collected, the Union health ministry said on Friday in a press briefing.

The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) will conduct national serosurveys to assess the Covid spread and states/UTs should also conduct them to get all geographies' information, it said.

Decline in active cases should not lead to complacency: Health minister

A decrease in the number of COVID-19 cases should never inculcate a sense of complacency among the public, Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan said on Friday, underlining that the behavioural pattern of putting masks on and off intermittently, the improper wearing of masks and not following COVID-appropriate behaviour contributed to the second wave of the viral disease.

Vardhan said this after inaugurating the newly-revamped Hardayal Municipal Heritage Public Library at Chandni Chowk in Delhi, according to a statement issued by the health ministry.

COVAXIN rejection by US FDA won't impact India's vaccine programme: Centre

On the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) denying Emergency Use Authorisation (EUA) to Bharat Biotech's COVID-19 vaccine COVAXIN, Dr VK Paul, member, Niti Aayog said, "Every country's regulatory system might have some things in common with others and some things different. We respect it."

The FDA has "recommended" Ocugen Inc, the US partner of Bharat Biotech, to go for Biologics Licence Application (BLA) route with additional data, nixing hopes of Emergency Use Authorisation.

Ocugen recently announced that it secured exclusive rights to commercialise Covaxin in Canada and has initiated discussions with Health Canada for regulatory approval.

The company will pursue expedited authorisation for the vaccine under the Interim Order Respecting the Importation, Sale and Advertising of Drugs for Use in Relation to COVID-19 in Canada.

Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, several other states extend lockdown

Several states on Friday extended the lockdown restrictions along with some relaxations which were imposed to check the spread of novel coronavirus.

Tamil Nadu on Friday extended its COVID-19 induced lockdown till 21 June, but allowed several relaxations. State-run liquor shops known as TASMAC can open in 27 districts between 10 am and 5 pm. In these districts, salons and spas will also be allowed to open from 14 June with 50 percent capacity, the state government said.

The Kerala government also announced a complete lockdown in the state on Saturday and Sunday.

The state government had imposed the lockdown on 8 May, and has been extended multiple times. The lockdown is currently in place until 16 June. As part of the additional restrictions imposed for the weekend, takeaway parcels are not allowed from hotels and restaurants, with only home delivery permitted.

The Manipur government Friday also decided to extend the ongoing curfew in seven districts till 30 June.

On account of the high positivity rate, curfew was first imposed on 8 May in the districts of Imphal West, Imphal East, Thoubal, Kakching, Ukhrul, Churachandpur, and Bishnupur, and later extended till 11 June.

Meghalaya chief minister Conrad K Sangma on Friday announced an extension of the lockdown in East Khasi Hills district for another week till 21 June in view of the spurt in COVID-19 cases in the region.

The decision was taken as the positivity rate for the coronavirus infection continues to be over 10 percent in the district, a health department official said.

The COVID-19 curfew in Himachal Pradesh has been extended with several more relaxations till further orders, an official spokesperson said on Friday.

The buses within the state will ply with 50 percent occupancy and shops will remain open from 9 am to 5 pm from 14 June, he added. However, the shops except those of essential commodities will remain closed on Saturdays and Sundays. The curfew will continue from 5 pm to 5 am in the state till further orders, the spokesperson added.

Free vaccination drive for street vendors in Noida from 14 June

A special campaign for free anti-coronavirus vaccination for street-side vendors would begin in Noida from 14 June, officials said.

In Noida, officials said the inoculation would be done for registered vendors and will take place at the Indira Gandhi Kala Kendra. "Currently there are around 3,700 registered street vendors in Noida," Noida Authority's officer on special duty Indu Prakash Singh told PTI.

Vendors can register themselves through the CoWIN app but in case they are unable to do it, they may come directly to the venue with their Aadhaar card and mobile phone for on-spot registration, he added.

More than 24.9 crore vaccinated against COVID-19 so far: Centre

The cumulative number of COVID-19 vaccine doses administered in the country has gone past 24.93 crore, the Union health ministry said on Friday.

It said 19.49 lakh beneficiaries in the 18-44 age group received the first dose while 72,279 in the age group received the second dose of the vaccine on Friday.

Cumulatively, 3,79,67,237 people in the 18-44 age group have received the first dose and 5,58,862 have received the second dose since the start of the third phase of the vaccination drive across the country.

This comes on the day when the ministry said over 1.17 crore COVID-19 vaccine doses are still available with the states and UTs, while over 38 lakh doses will be received by them within the next three days.

Reduction in vaccine wastage will ensure enhanced vaccination: Centre

COVID-19 vaccine is an essential public health commodity with global scarcity and therefore, its wastage must be reduced and kept to a minimum level which will further help inoculate many people, the health ministry said on Friday.

Referring to some media reports stating that the ministry's insistence on keeping vaccine wastage below 1 percent is unrealistic and undesirable, it said several states have organised vaccination in such a way, that not only there is no wastage but they are able to extract more doses from the vial and thus show a negative wastage.

"Hence, the expectation that vaccine wastage should be one percent or less is not at all unreasonable. It is reasonable, desirable and achievable," the ministry said.

It also said that vaccination against COVID-19 is important in protecting people from coronavirus infection and associated mortality and morbidity.

Experts advise reducing gap between Covishield doses; no need to panic, says Centre

In the context of some media reports quoting recent studies that it would be better to shorten the gap between two doses of Covishield vaccine, in light of the variants in circulation, Dr VK Paul, member (Health) at NITI Aayog, said there is a need to balance such concerns.

"There is no need for any panic, suggesting the need for immediate switchover or change in the gap between the doses," Paul said while addressing a media briefing on COVID-19.

"All these decisions must be taken very carefully. We must remember that when we increased the gap, we had to consider the risk posed by the virus to those who have received only one dose. But the counterpoint was that more people will then be able to get the first dose, thereby giving a reasonable degree of immunity to more people," he added.

With inputs from agencies


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