India''s COVID-19 tally zoomed past six lakh cases on Thursday with a single-day increase of 19,148 cases, just five days after it crossed the five-lakh mark, while the death toll rose to 17,834, according to the Union health ministry data.
The COVID-19 case load increased to 6,04,641 while 434 people have succumbed to the disease in the last 24 hours, the data updated at 8 am showed.
With a steady rise, the number of recoveries stands at 3,59,859 while one patient has migrated. There are 2,26,947 active cases of coronavirus infection presently in the country.
"Thus, around 59.52 per cent of patients have recovered so far," an official said. The total number of confirmed cases include foreigners.
Of the 434 deaths reported in the last 24 hours, 198 are from Maharashtra, 63 from Tamil Nadu, 61 from Delhi, 21 each from Uttar Pradesh and Gujarat, 15 from West Bengal, nine from Madhya Pradesh, eight from Rajasthan, seven each from Telangana and Karnataka, six from Andhra Pradesh, five from Punjab, four each from Haryana and Jammu and Kashmir, three from Bihar and one each from Chhattisgarh and Goa.
Fresh challenges to protect people from the virus emerged for disaster management officials in the northeast state of Assam amid torrential rainfall, where floods and landslides killed 57 people this week and more than 1.5 million were forced to flee their homes.
Assam’s health minister, Himanta Biswa Sarma, said the state had started testing aggressively to identify coronavirus cases among villagers forced to take shelter in community halls, schools and government buildings.
“We were isolating new coronavirus hotspots; the situation is very critical,” Sarma told Reuters.
The increase in infections presents a severe challenge for India’s strained medical capacity and overburdened health system.
The fear of being quarantined in poorly maintained government facilities has discouraged people from getting tested, experts say, leading to fresh cases of COVID-19 even after the government imposed the world’s longest lockdown.
An easing phase called “Unlock 2” was announced on Monday, allowing more economic activities to resume.
But the western state of Maharashtra reported a record jump of 5,537 coronavirus infections on Wednesday, prompting authorities to again impose a stringent lockdown in areas around the financial capital, Mumbai, forcing people to stop commuting in a city largely dependent on public transport.
The state accounts for more than a fifth of total infections in the country and nearly half of the deaths, has reported total to 180,297 infections including 8052 deaths so far.
India has crossed the nine-million mark in conducting COVID-19 tests
India has crossed the nine-million mark in conducting COVID-19 tests, with 90,56,173 samples having been examined till July 1, officials said on Thursday.
The officials of Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) also said there are now 1,065 testing labs in the country — 768 in the public sector and 297 in private.
The daily testing capacity is also growing fast, they said, adding it was around 1.5 lakh per day on May 25 and is more than three lakh per day now.
As many as 2,29,588 samples were tested on Wednesday, which took the cumulative number to 90,56,173, the country’s apex health research body said.
Starting with just one laboratory, the National Institute of Virology (NIV) in Pune, and having 100 in the beginning of the lockdown, the ICMR on June 23 validated 1000th testing lab, it said.
The Union Health Ministry, meanwhile, said the total number of people being tested for COVID-19 in the country will soon touch one crore.
"This has been (made) possible due to the removal of all bottlenecks by the government of India. Various steps taken by the Central government have paved the way for enhanced testing for COVID-19," the ministry said.
Through a significant step announced by the Central government on Wednesday, COVID-19 testing can now be done on the prescription of any registered practitioner, and not exclusively of a government doctor.
The Centre has strongly advised states and Union Territories to take immediate steps to facilitate testing at the earliest by enabling all qualified medical practitioners, including private ones, to prescribe COVID-19 test to any individual fulfilling the criteria for testing as per ICMR guidelines.
Reiterating that ''Test-Track-Treat'' is the key strategy for early detection and containment of the outbreak, the Centre on Wednesday advised them to take all possible steps to ensure full capacity utilization of all COVID-19 testing laboratories.