Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami gets the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine at Omandurar Government Hospital in Chennai on Thursday.
Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami gets the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine at Omandurar Government Hospital in Chennai on Thursday.

New Delhi: India on Thursday recorded the single day Covid-19 infections of 22,854 in the past 24 hours, which are the highest in the year 2021, while the daily deaths also swelled to 126, with Maharashtra accounting for 56 fatalities, followed by 20 in Punjab and 16 in Kerala and no death in 19 of the 36 states/Union Territories.

The active caseload also shot up by 4624 in a day, pushing the total number of patients under treatment to 1.89 lakh, which is 1.64% of the total infections of 1.13 crore. The daily recoveries were 18,100 while 1.09 crore have recovered in the country so far, giving the recovery rate of 96.96% of the total infections.

The death toll in the country went up to 1,58,189 while 22.43 crore have been tested so far for the Coronavirus, 7.78 lakh of them in the past 24 hours.

Don’t lower guard: Centre

Expressing concern over the rise in active COVID-19 cases in a few states the Centre advised people to be "careful and watchful" and not lower guard as the pandemic is not yet over.

At a press conference, NITI Aayog member (Health) VK Paul termed the coronavirus situation, especially in Maharashtra, ‘worrisome’. He referred to the lockdown imposed in Nagpur from March 15 to 21 to say, "We are reaching a situation where these approaches (to tackle the spread of COVID-19) are being brought back." "Don't take this virus for granted. It can come up unexpectedly. If we have to remain free of this virus, COVID-appropriate behaviour, containment strategy as well as vaccination has to be brought in," Paul said.

He advised that in districts where COVID-19 cases are seemingly on the rise, vaccination of eligible individuals should be intensified and prioritised.

Sounding a word of caution for Delhi and its neighbourhood, Paul said the national capital is seeing a rise in positivity rate, so is Gurgaon, Faridabad and to an extent Gautam Buddh Nagar and Ghaziabad.

"Be careful, be watchful. We still have a huge population at risk of this virus. This pandemic is not yet over. Be vigilant," he said.

"Today, using the force of vaccination, we are in a position to give a stronger fight (to the pandemic). We plead again, do not lower your guard and please embrace the vaccines that are available," Paul added.

Asked whether a mutant strain of the coronavirus is responsible for the rise in cases, ICMR Director General Dr Balram Bhargava said it has not been found incriminating in the surge in Maharashtra.

"At the moment, it is just related to reduced testing, tracking and tracing as well as COVID-inappropriate behaviour and large congregations," he said.

Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan said Nagpur, Pune, Thane, Mumbai, Bengaluru Urban, Ernakulam, Amravati, Jalgaon, Nashik and Aurangabad districts have the highest number of active COVID-19 cases.

Bhushan said Kerala had 64,607 active cases of COVID-19 on February 11 which has now declined to 35,715. "We need to appreciate this," he said.

In Uttar Pradesh, from 3,256 active cases on February 11 it has come down to 1,689 on March 11. In West Bengal, active cases have come down from 4,300 to 3,127, the Union health secretary said.

However, in case of Maharasthra, there were 36,917 active cases on February 11 and now it has crossed a lakh. Punjab had 2,100 cases which is now touching 9,400, Bhushan said.

"We think Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Haryana are at a tipping point. They are yet to have a surge. But looking at early signs of increase in numbers, we have had three meetings where the states have been told to increase the number of tests, surveillance, containment areas," he said.

Bhushan informed the press conference that 2,56,90,545 COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered till Thursday 1 pm, which includes 67,86,086 for the elderly and those aged 45-60 with comorbidities.

PM’s nonagenarian mother gets jab

Ahmedabad: Prime Minister Narendra Modi's mother Hiraba took the coronavirus vaccine dose on Thursday.

"Happy to share that my mother has taken the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine today. I urge everyone to help and motivate people around you who are eligible to take the vaccine," the prime minister tweeted.

Hiraba, who is over 95 years old, lives with the PM's younger brother Pankaj Modi at Raysan village near Gandhinagar city.

Over 17.13 lakh persons, including those over 60 years of age, have taken the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine in Gujarat.

Gandhinagar district collectors office, health department of Gandhinagar municipal corporation and Gandhinagar civil hospital authorities were not aware where Hiraba got vaccinated, adding people can also take the vaccine in private hospitals.

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