India recorded over 13,000 fresh cases of Covid-19 in 24 hours after a span of 19 days taking the nation’s total tally to 1,09,63,394. Experts attribute the spike in cases to increased economic activity and complacency among people.
A total of 13,193 cases and 97 deaths were registered in a span of 24 hours taking the national death to 1,56,111; the data updated by the Union Health Ministry at 8 am showed.
The number of people who have recuperated from the disease surged to 1,06,67,741 which gives a national Covid-19 recovery rate of 97.30 per cent while the case fatality rate stands at 1.42 per cent.
Active coronavirus cases across the country remain below 1.5 lakh. There are 1,39,542 active cases of coronavirus infections in the country which comprises 1.27 per cent of the total caseload, the data stated.
India's COVID-19 tally had crossed the 20-lakh mark on August 7, 30 lakh on August 23, 40 lakh on September 5, and 50 lakh on September 16.
It went past 60 lakh on September 28, 70 lakh on October 11, crossed 80 lakh on October 29, 90 lakh on November 20, and surpassed the one-crore mark on December 19.
According to the ICMR, 20,94,74,862 samples have been tested up to February 18 with 7,71,071 samples being tested on Thursday.
The 97 new fatalities include 38 from Maharashtra, 14 from Kerala, and 10 from Punjab.
A total of 1,56,111 deaths have been reported so far in the country including 51,669 from Maharashtra followed by 12,444 from Tamil Nadu, 12,282 from Karnataka, 10,896 from Delhi, 10,239 from West Bengal, 8,709 from Uttar Pradesh, and 7,166 from Andhra Pradesh.
The health ministry stressed that more than 70 per cent of the deaths occurred due to comorbidities.
"Our figures are being reconciled with the Indian Council of Medical Research," the ministry said on its website, adding that state-wise distribution of figures is subject to further verification and reconciliation.
Experts have attributed the rise in cases to people letting their guard down.
Dr. Samiran Panda, head (epidemiology and communicable diseases division), ICMR said it is always a cause of concern if the number of cases goes up.
"If the number of reported cases go up, it is always a cause of concern for any state. These cases will not only happen in young adults but also in the elderly population with co-morbidities that is a reason for worry. The reason (for rise) is the same that when a susceptible population comes close to the infected people the infection transmits from the infected person to the susceptible person," he told PTI.
He urged people to maintain preventive measures.
"This is the time we should have our preventive measures maintained. We have a vaccine but it is one of the prevention measures. So maintaining physical distancing, limiting social interaction should be followed. If people go out for marriage ceremonies, parties it leads to transmission," Panda said.
Noted virologist Shahid Jameel said the easy explanation for the rise in cases is increased activity and complacency.
"A majority of people have stopped wearing masks thinking that it's over. This at a time of increased economic activity and person-to-person contacts. There could also be unique local factors like local trains in Mumbai, cold weather and indoor activity in J-K etc. But a more worrisome thought is if variants might be responsible? Our genomic sequencing density is not high enough to pick this early," he said.
With inputs from PTI