The doubling time of coronavirus infection in India has improved to 13.6 days in the last three days from 11.5 in the past 14 days, Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan said on Sunday as the country registered a record single-day jump of around 5,000 cases.
The fatality rate is down to 3.1 per cent and the recovery rate has improved to 37.5 per cent, he said.
Substantiating his point that the spread of the infection in the country has been slow, Vardhan said coronavirus cases in India reached the 80,000 mark in 106 days while developed nations such as the UK, Italy, Spain, Germany and the US took 44-66 days to reach that mark.
Eight states and Union Territories -- Arunachal Pradesh, Chandigarh, Ladakh, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Puducherry, the Andaman and Nicobar Islands and Dadra and Nagar Haveli --have not reported any case of COVID-19 in the last 24 hrs.
Sikkim, Nagaland, Daman and Diu, and Lakshadweep have not reported any case till now, Vardhan said in a statement.
With India entering the fourth phase of the nationwide lockdown from Monday, Vardhan said, "Our policy, perseverance coupled with aggressive and early measures through a strong leadership have shown encouraging results. While the doubling time in the past 14 days was 11.5, it has improved to 13.6 in the last three days."
Also as of Saturday, 3.1 per cent of the active COVID-19 patients are in the ICU, 0.45 per cent are on ventilators and 2.7 per cent on oxygen support, the minister said.
The National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) announced on Sunday that the ongoing countrywide lockdown has been extended till May 31. In an order, it said that lockdown measures need to be implemented for a further period of 14 days in the country to contain the spread of COVID-19.
The death toll due to COVID-19 rose to 2,872 and the number of total positive cases climbed to 90,927 Sunday morning, registering an increase of 120 fatalities and a record jump of 4,987 new cases in 24 hours since Saturday 8 am, according to the Union Health Ministry.
The number of active COVID-19 cases stands at 53,946, while 34,109 people have recovered and one patient has migrated, it said.
"Thus, around 37.51 per cent patients have recovered so far," a senior health ministry official said.
In a tweet, Vardhan said, "Because of India's well-turned strategy in the fight against COVID-19, the nation touched the 80,000-cases mark in 106 days as against 44-66 days taken by countries such as the UK, Italy, Spain, Germany and the US. I truly believe that under PM Narendra Modi's leadership, we will win this war against the pandemic."
Elaborating on the health infrastructure preparedness, Vardhan said 916 dedicated COVID-19 hospitals with 1,80,473 beds -- 1,61,169 isolation and 19,304 ICU -- and 2,044 dedicated health centres with 1,28,304 beds (1,17,775 isolation beds and 10,529 ICU beds) along with 9,536 quarantine centres and 6,309 care centres with 5,64,632 beds are now available in the country.
The Union health minister said that while India sees a gets accustomed to a "new normal", following simple hygiene measures like washing hands with soap frequently or using alcohol-based sanitizers, not spitting in public, sanitizing one's workplace, using face covers in public places are a must.
"Physical distancing is the most potent social vaccine available to us and hence it is advisable to ensure 'Do Gaz ki Doori' (two-years distance) while interacting with others and to limit social gatherings by opting virtual gatherings," he said while people advising to travel only when it is absolutely necessary and not to visit crowded places to limit the exposure to the virus.
Due precautions, safe handling of food can help prevent the spread of COVID-19, the minister said.
The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has advised some simple steps like washing raw fruits and vegetables in potable water, having "fully cooked" meat, avoiding sharing of utensils and cleaning of surfaces such as tables with anti-bacterial bleach wipes that can be followed to ensure food safety.
Vardhan expressed his gratitude to the services being rendered by frontline health workers such as doctors, nurses, ANMs, anganwadi workers as well as the pathologists, lab technicians, scientists and others since the beginning of the pandemic, according to the statement said.
They have been working under tremendously high-risk conditions in their line of duty, to save their fellow countrymen, Vardhan said and emphasized that the nation needs to shun stigmatising them and applaud their contribution.
"By shunning the stigma attached with COVID-19, we encourage people to report symptoms on time which will help in early detection and management of the cases thus improving the recovery rate in the country," the health minister said.
He also emphasised on the importance of downloading the Aarogya Setu app which helps in self-assessment and provides surveillance of COVID-19 positive cases.
Additionally, Vardhan warned against falling prey to misinformation, rumours and myths or unfounded claims regarding the coronavirus infection.
Highlighting that the daily testing capacity has increased to 1,00,000 tests through 373 government and 152 private laboratories, he said, "Cumulatively, 22,79,324 COVID-19 tests have been done so far of which 90,094 samples were tested on Saturday."
He also said the Centre has provided 90.22 lakh N-95 masks and 53.98 lakh Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs) to the states, UTs and central institutions.