A record spike in COVID-19 cases in Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh on Thursday triggered the biggest single-day jump of close to 17,000 infections in the country even as Maharashtra decided to undertake antigen and rapid antibody tests for the disease in the worst hit state.
According to the Union Health ministry data, COVID-19 cases rose by the highest-ever number of 16,922 to reach 4,73,105, while the death toll climbed to 14,894 with 418 new fatalities.
This was the sixth consecutive day when coronavirus cases increased by more than 14,000.
Consequently, India has added 92,573 cases since June 20, and over 2.82 lakh this month alone since June 1.
However, the recovery rate has improved to 57.43 per cent, according to the Health ministry.
It also said there are 33.39 COVID-19 cases in India for every one lakh population, as against the global average of 114.67.
Also, the country has 1.06 deaths per lakh population, which is amongst the lowest in the world and the global average is 6.24, it added.
A central team led by Joint Secretary in the Health Ministry Lav Agarwal will visit Gujarat, Maharashtra and Telangana between June 26 and 29 to coordinate with the state officials in strengthening COVID-19 management efforts in those areas.
According to officials, the team will also review the measures undertaken by the states for containment of COVID-19.
Maharashtra recorded the highest daily jump of 4,841 new cases and the tally rose to 1,47,741, a state health official said.
Gujarat was in the fourth position with a tally of 28,943 while Telangana reported 10,331 cases, according to health ministry data. Twelve states have reported over 10,000 cases.
Tamil Nadu recorded 3,509 new virus cases, the highest single day increase so far, to take the infection count to 70,977, a health department bulletin said. Andhra Pradesh also scaled a new high of 553 cases to reach a count of 10,884.
The Maharashtra government said it would conduct antigen tests, which would provide results of the COVID-19 tests within an hour, unlike the current waiting period of over 24 hours.
Health Minister Rajesh Tope said one lakh antigen test kits will soon be made available in the state. The diagnostic technique tests nasal fluid swabs.
"Procurement orders have been given. Priority would be given to conduct this test on the frontline COVID-19 workers, such as essential services staff, health workers, police and others," he told reporters in Mumbai.
The state government has also decided to undertake rapid antibody tests kits for which were being supplied by a South Korean company.
"It will help the state in finding out whether a person has contracted COVID-19 infection," Tope said.
According to the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), a total of 75,60,782 samples have been tested across the country up to June 24 with 2,07,871 samples being tested on Wednesday.
In some good developments for Mumbai, the growth rate of coronavirus cases in the city is decreasing with every passing day, the data released by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) showed.
As of Wednesday, the city had reported 69,625 infection cases and a death toll of 3,962.
But the average doubling rate of cases--the number of days during which cases double--has now crossed 40 days, while the average growth rate of cases has dropped to 1.72 per cent, the civic body said.
On June 24, the doubling rate of infection cases stood at 41 days from 30 days on June 16, while the average growth rate declined to 1.72 per cent from 2.30 per cent on June 17, it said.
'While on one hand, a positive growth is being reported in the average doubling rate, the average growth percentage is also reporting a decline every day. Both these things are definitely comforting for Mumbaikars,' the BMC release stated.
The populous state of Uttar Pradesh recorded 636 new cases to cross the 20,000 mark with 12,370 being added to the count since June 1 when the Centre began the "Unlock-1" phase, gradually lifting the curbs imposed nationwide to contain the spread of the pandemic.
Gautam Buddh Nagar in the National Capital Region(NCR) alone recorded 143 new cases, the biggest single day spike, official data showed.
Delhi, which is poised to launch door-to-door surveys from June 27, recorded 3,390 new cases to take the total to 73,780. Delhi is the worst affected city and is also in the second spot in the all India tally.
The Karnataka government, meanwhile, ruled out fresh lockdown for now in Bengaluru, putting to rest speculation it was planning such a move in view of the spike in cases.
"There will be no lockdown in Bengaluru. It is clear, no lockdown in Bengaluru," Revenue Minister R Ashoka said after a high-level meeting chaired by Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa and attended by senior Ministers, including himself, and officials.
There will be only containment zones in the city and regions that have a large number of cases will be sealed, he told reporters here.
A total of 1,791 cases of COVID-19 have been reported in the city so far.
The number of COVID-19 cases in the state which stood at 3,408 as of June 1 crossed the 10,000 mark on Wednesday with the capital city topping the districts in the infection count. The caseload is now 10,560.
The neighbouring state of Kerala reported over 100 COVID-19 cases for the seventh consecutive day, taking the total to 3,726.