New coronavirus infections reported on Saturday crossed 18,000, for the first time since January.
Last week, a Health Ministry team had visited Maharashtra and reported that among the possible reasons for the growing number of cases in the city were — COVID inappropriate behaviour due to “lack of fear of disease,” pandemic fatigue, missed cases, super spreading events and crowds due to recent gram panchayat elections, marriages, re-opening of schools, and crowded public transport.
However, the report stressed that the situation in Maharashtra was not unique and a similar combination of events was responsible for a surge in other States too.
Here are the latest updates:
No surge in daily cases in Kerala, unlike in other States implicated by Centre
From mid-February, a spike in daily new cases was reported from a few States including Maharashtra. For days on end, the Health Ministry kept repeating the message that Kerala too was “witnessing an upsurge of daily new cases”. Even as recently as March 6, the Health Ministry wrongly implicated Kerala for the surge in cases when it said “Maharashtra, Kerala, Punjab, Tamil Nadu, Gujarat and Karnataka continue to report a surge in the COVID-19 daily new cases.”
Kerala continues to contribute a high number of cases on a daily basis. However, there has not been any surge or spike in daily cases, as seen in other States. In reality, Kerala has been witnessing a steady decline in daily cases since end-January.
“From a second peak of 6,078 seven-day moving average of daily cases as on January 23, we have been seeing a steady decline in cases in Kerala. There has been a 50% decline in the seven-day moving average of daily cases from the fourth week of January to March 4,” says Dr. Rijo John, Health Economist and Consultant based in Kochi, Kerala. “The seven-day moving average of daily cases in Kerala as on March 4 was 2,996. The absolute number of daily cases on March 4 was 2,616.”
While other States have reduced the number of daily tests in recent months, Kerala has been continuing with the same number of daily tests.
Number of inoculations cross 20 million
More than 20 million vaccine doses have been administered since the programme began on January 16 with 7.6 lakh senior citizens and 1.4 lakh persons above 45 and with comorbidities, getting their first dose on Saturday.
Nearly 70 lakh healthcare workers (HCWs)have been vaccinated with at least one dose of either Covaxin or Covishield and more than 35 lakh of them have got their follow-up doses after at least four weeks, the recommended schedule. Nearly 63 lakh frontline workers (FLWs) have been inoculated with one dose with 14 lakh getting a second dose.
The second phase of the vaccination drive appears to be inoculating more people than during the first phase of the exercise. Close to 7-8 lakh have been inoculated for most days last week as opposed to the 1-3 lakh HCWs workers in the early weeks of the vaccination programme.
Joe Biden’s COVID-19 rescue plan clears crucial Senate hurdle
The U.S. Senate on Saturday voted to approve a $1.9 trillion relief package that President Joe Biden vows will revive the country’s pandemic-stricken economy, capping hours of debate, frenzied negotiations and a marathon overnight voting session.
Passed by 50 votes to 49 in a party line vote, the sweeping legislation now heads back to the Democratic-majority House of Representatives, where it is expected to be adopted barring a last-minute setback.
Even without the progressive priority of a minimum wage increase to $15 an hour, the stimulus bill marks a victory for Mr. Biden’s Democrats as they put their stamp on the recovery from a pandemic that has killed over 500,000 in the United States and hobbled its economy.
“I promised the American people help was on the way,” said Mr. Biden in an address from the White House, after the plan was approved along strict party lines. “Today, I can say we’ve taken one more giant step forward in delivering on that promise,” he said. “It obviously wasn’t easy. It wasn’t always pretty. But it was so desperately needed.”