Coronavirus update: COVID-19 cases in India near 5 million mark

Positivity rate remains a key concern, say health ministry officials; country’s average positivity rate is 8.4%, while Maharashtra’s is at 21.4%

By DTE Staff
Published: Tuesday 15 September 2020

The total number of novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases in India were about to reach the five million-mark, even as the total deaths from the pandemic exceeded the 80,000-mark.

  • The country had 4,933,188 total cases, with 992,850 active cases, 3,858,815 recoveries and 80,833 deaths as of September 15, 2020 evening, according to private tracker
  • Four states accounted for 60 per cent of the total active cases (more than 50,000), while 14 states and Union territories had less than 5,000 active cases, Rajesh Bhushan, secretary of the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, said during a press conference September 15.
  • The country’s average positivity rate was 8.4 per cent, while a positivity above 10 per cent was a matter of concern, said Bhushan.
  • The positivity rate for Maharashtra — the most affected state — at 21.4 per cent, followed by Andhra Pradesh (12.3 per cent), Karnataka (12 per cent), Tamil Nadu (9.2 per cent) and Delhi (8.9 per cent).
  • The health ministry issued a protocol for complications arising in the recovery period of COVID infection. But it has no data on the proportion of patients experiencing these complications, Bhushan said.
  • No thought was given for emergency use authorisation of vaccines as no developer made such a request to the drug controller so far, said Bhushan. 
  • Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) will not decide on the utility of convalescent plasma (CP) therapy based on a pre-print of an ICMR-backed study published this week, director general Balram Bhargava said. “We will wait for the paper to be peer-reviewed and then take a considered call,” he said.
  • Convalescent plasma neither helped in preventing mortality nor it prevented progression of disease, he added.
  • With a 1,900-tonne per day production capacity for oxygen, “there is no shortage. However, the problem is with states’ inventory magagment. They have be more alert about stock-outs,” Bhusan said. The Centre has issued many circulars to states recently on ensuring availability of liquid medical oxygen for patients.
  • Several media outlets have reported on possible ‘reinfections’ but there have been no reports of them being confirmed by genome-sequencing. When asked whether ICMR was aware of the phenomenon, Bhargava did not give a straight answer but said cases of reinfection were not to be taken seriously.
  • The Asian Development Bank (ADB) predicted India’s economy will shrink nine per cent between the April 2020 and March 2021 fiscal, reported Indian Express.
  • The country’s growth outlook “remains highly vulnerable to either a prolonged outbreak or a resurgence of cases, with the country now having one of the highest number of COVID-19 cases globally,” according to the ADB.
  • Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan — in the Rajya Sabha September 15 — said the government prevented between 1,400,000 and 2,900,000 cases and 37,000-78,000 deaths by imposing the nationwide lockdown to curb COVID-19.
  • “I want to remind members that the battle against Covid-19 is far from over,” he was quoted as saying by news daily Indian Express.
  • The number of new COVID-19 cases in Delhi dipped slightly to 3,229 September 14, after the national capital reported more than 4,000 infections each day for five consecutive days.
  • Delhi’s deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia tested positive for the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19, he said in a tweet September 14.
  • Australia recorded no deaths from COVID-19 for the first time in two months, reported news agency Agence France-Presse September 15.
  • A total 50 cases were reported country-wide, down from the peak of more than 700 cases in late July and early August, said the AFP report.
  • Israel, among the countries battling a fresh spike in the number of COVID-19 cases, announced a three-week nationwide lockdown starting September 18, when people will not be allowed more than 500 metres from their homes, according to a Hindustan Times report.
  • Primary pre-existing conditions associated with Israel’s COVID-19 deaths were high blood pressure, diabetes and heart disease, said a report by Israel daily Haaretz, citing the country’s health ministry data.
  • There were 29,475,633 total COVID-19 cases across the world, with 933,444 deaths and 21,299,727 recoveries as of September 15, according to tracker

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