Record jump in COVID-19 cases for second consecutive day, 137 more deaths

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New Delhi, May 23 () COVID-19 cases in India on Saturday saw the highest single-day spike for the second consecutive day with 6,654 new infections reported in a 24-hour span, taking the tally to over 1.25 lakh, while the death toll rose to 3,720 after 137 more fatalities, according to the Union Health Ministry.

In a significant development, a high-level committee of experts was formed by the government to recommend reforms in India's drug regulatory system so that approval processes can be fast-tracked.

Faced with the ominous threat of the coronavirus infection, a number of steps such as fast-tracking the approval process for drugs, research and vaccine development were taken. Advertisement

A health ministry official said the aim of the panel is to identify and institutionalise these measures.

Meanwhile, 11 municipal areas in seven states and union territories that have accounted for 70 per cent of India's coronavirus case load were asked by the government on Saturday to step up monitoring in old cities, urban slums and other high density pockets like camps and clusters for migrant workers for management of COVID-19 cases.

These 11 municipal areas are from Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Gujarat, Delhi, Madhya Pradesh, West Bengal, Rajasthan and account for 70 per cent of active case load, the Union health ministry said.
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Union Health Secretary Preeti Sudan who held a high-level meeting through video conferencing with principal health secretaries and municipal commissioners along with other officials from the 11 municipal areas urged them to focus on prevention through active screening of high risk and vulnerable population along with effective and sturdy clinical management of the admitted cases to reduce fatality rate.

During the meeting, a presentation was made to highlight the trend in case trajectory with respect to total confirmed cases, case fatality rate, doubling time, tests per million and confirmation percentage, the ministry said. "It was told that major challenge lies in those corporations having shorter doubling time, higher mortality rate and a higher confirmation rate than the national average," the ministry said in its statement. Advertisement

The officials were briefed about the factors to be considered while mapping the containment and buffer zones and the activities mandated in containment zone like perimeter control, active search for cases through house to house surveillance, contact tracing, clinical management of the active cases.

They were also asked to undertake surveillance activities in the buffer zone like monitoring of SARI/ILI cases and promoting social distancing and hand hygiene among others.

"Maintaining high vigilance and monitoring in areas of old cities, urban slums and other high density pockets along with the camps/clusters for migrant workers are important steps in COVID-19 management in the urban areas," Sudan said. Advertisement

The officials were also urged to focus on prevention through active screening of high risk and vulnerable population and groups, and effective and sturdy clinical management of the admitted cases to reduce fatality rate.

While many have operationalised 24x7 state control rooms, others could also follow the lead and start such units which shall not only provide assistance to the people for various facilities and services regarding COVID-19 management, but also have a panel of domain experts and doctors to provide round the clock support and mentoring for clinical issues which shall effectively contribute to reducing fatality rate, the statement said.

"It was pointed out that testing needs to stepped up in some municipal areas to ensure early detection of cases, timely clinical management and a reduction in fatality rate," it said. Advertisement

They also need to be mindful of ramping up the health infrastructure to ensure preparedness for the next two months with special focus on isolation beds with oxygen, ventilators and ICU beds.

Other issues that need focused attention include active coordination with government and private labs to address delays in sample collection, partnership with private hospitals to augment the health and bed capacity, waste disposal, management of camps for migrant labourers and creating awareness regarding issues such as stigmatisation of patients in local languages, by involving community leaders, youth groups among others.

The measures taken and best practices followed by the municipal corporations for the management of COVID-19 cases were also discussed, the statement stated. Advertisement

Mumbai Municipal Commissioner briefed about establishing close cooperation between private hospitals and municipal authorities to pool the health infrastructure like ICU or oxygen beds etc.

They shall also soon make public the online portal displaying the bed availability with unique ID numbers for each bed, and also set up a GPS backed online ambulance tracking system, the statement said. According to the ministry bulletin, the active cases of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) rose to 69,597, while 51,783 people have recovered and a patient has migrated. Advertisement

"Thus, around 41.39 percent patients have recovered so far," a ministry official said.

The total of 1,25,101 confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus pandemic includes foreigners.

Of the 137 deaths reported since Friday morning, 63 were in Maharashtra, 29 in Gujarat, 14 each from Delhi and Uttar Pradesh, six from West Bengal, four from Tamil Nadu, two each from Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Andhra Pradesh, and one from Haryana. Advertisement

Of the total toll of 3,720, Maharashtra tops the tally with 1,517 deaths, followed by Gujarat at 802, Madhya Pradesh at 272, West Bengal at 265 and Delhi at 208.

The number of deaths due to the contagion in Rajasthan is 153, while 152 people died in Uttar Pradesh, 98 in Tamil Nadu and 55 in Andhra Pradesh.

The COVID-19 death toll reached 45 in Telangana, 41 in Karnataka and 39 in Punjab. There are 20 fatalities in Jammu and Kashmir, 16 in Haryana and 11 in Bihar. Advertisement

Seven people have succumbed to the disease in Odisha, and four each in Kerala and Assam so far. Jharkhand, Chandigarh and Himachal Pradesh each have recorded three deaths each, while there is a fatality each in Meghalaya and Uttarakhand, the ministry said. More than 70 percent of the deaths are due to comorbidities, according to the ministry website. PLB ASK ZMN
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