On Wednesday, the Union Health Ministry expressed ‘grave concern’ over the rising cases of COVID-19 in the Congress-ruled states of Maharashtra and Punjab.
In a statement, Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan said, “Two states are of grave concern, that has shown a recent surge in cases – Maharashtra, that reported more than 28,000 cases in the last 24 hours and Punjab, that is reporting a huge number of cases in proportion to its population.”
It is important to note that Maharastra accounts for a total of 9 out of 10 districts, which have reported the highest number of COVID-19 cases. They include Nagpur, Mumbai, Pune, Thane, Nashik, Aurangabad, Nanded, Jalgaon and Akola. As of March 23, Maharashtra has 2,30,641 active cases while the total confirmed cases stand at 25,33,026. The city of Pune has reported 4.81 lakh cases so far while Mumbai has accounted for 3,69,451 confirmed cases.
The State of Maharashtra has witnessed 53,589 cases. Between March 16 and March 23, the number of new cases has grown by an average of 1.1% every day. It must be pointed out that for every 100 confirmed cases, approximately 2 people have succumbed to the Coronavirus infection.
Rising Coronavirus cases in Punjab
With a population of about 3 crores, the State of Punjab has reported 2,17,663 confirmed cases of Coronavirus infection. As of March 23, the Congress-ruled State has reported 19,403 active cases and a total of 6,435 fatalities. On Tuesday alone, Punjab accounted for a whopping 59 deaths due to the Wuhan virus. In light of the state of the pandemic in Punjab, the Union Ministry of Health has expressed grave concerns. It has emphasised that the cases in the State are increasing, disproportionate to its population.
Coronavirus variants and its impact on India
The Union Health Ministry informed that 88% of people dying due to Coronavirus in India fall in the age group of 45 years and above. Dr SK Singh, the Director of the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), had informed that a total of 771 cases of Coronavirus variants have been identified in a total of 18 States. The majority of them include the UK variant (736 cases) while the South African and Brazilian variant accounts for 34 and 1 case respectively.
The Union Home Ministry however clarified that the Coronavirus variants are not responsible for a sudden spike in the number of cases in certain States. “Though VOCs and a new double mutant variant have been found in India, these have not been detected in numbers sufficient to either establish a direct relationship or explain the rapid increase in cases in some states,” it added.