Barricades put up at the entrance of Kolkata's Narkel Danga locality that has been sealed during the extended nationwide lockdown imposed to mitigate the spread of coronavirus, on April 17, 2020.
Barricades put up at the entrance of Kolkata's Narkel Danga locality that has been sealed during the extended nationwide lockdown imposed to mitigate the spread of coronavirus, on April 17, 2020. |Kuntal Chakrabarty/IANS

India's COVID-19 death toll mounts to 480, total number of cases rises to 14,378

By Sonny Abraham/NetIndian News Network

New Delhi, April 18, 2020

India's COVID-19 toll mounted to 480 today with 28 more deaths while the total number of infected persons has gone up to 14,378 with 543 new cases reported from around the country since yesterday evening.

Figures released by the Union Ministry of Health & Family Welfare this morning showed that the 28 new deaths included 12 in Madhya Pradesh, seven in Maharashtra, four in Delhi, three in Gujarat and one each in Bihar and Jammu & Kashmir.

With the latest deaths, the toll in Maharashtra, the worst-hit state, has crossed the 200-mark.

Of the total of 480 deaths so far, Maharashtra accounted for the highest number at 201, followed by 69 in Madhya Pradesh, 42 in Delhi, 41 in Gujarat, 18 in Telangana, 15 in Tamil Nadu, 14 each in Andhra Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh, 13 each in Karnataka and Punjab, 11 in Rajasthan, 10 in West Bengal, five in Jammu & Kashmir, three each in Haryana and Kerala, two each in Bihar and Jharkhand, and one each in Assam, Himachal Pradesh, Meghalaya and Odisha.

The total of 14,378 cases includes those who have died as well as 1,992 patients who have recovered, which meant that the number of active cases in the country stood at 11,906 as of this morning.

Of the total of 14,378 cases, Maharashtra accounted for the highest at 3,323, followed by 1,707 in Delhi, 1,323 in Tamil Nadu, 1,310 in Madhya Pradesh, 1,229 in Rajasthan, 1,099 in Gujarat, 849 in Uttar Pradesh, 766 in Telangana, 572 in Andhra Pradesh, 396 in Kerala, 359 in Karnataka, 328 in Jammu & Kashmir, 287 in West Bengal, 225 in Haryana, 202 in Punjab, 83 in Bihar, 60 in Odisha, 40 in Uttarakhand, 36 each in Chhattisgarh and Himachal Pradesh, 35 in Assam, 33 in Jharkhand, 21 in Chandigarh, 18 in Ladakh, 12 in Andaman & Nicobar Islands, 9 in Meghalaya, seven each in Goa and Puducherry, two each in Manipur and Tripura and one each in Arunachal Pradesh and Mizoram.

The total number of cases includes 76 foreigners, the Ministry said.

According to it, the Case Fatality Rate (CFR) of COVID-19 cases in India is 3.3%. The percentage of people who have recovered, so far, is 12.02%

As of now, 325 districts have not reported any cases so far. Mahe, Puducherry has not reported any fresh positive case in the last 28 days.

As many as 27 districts have not reported any new cases during the last 14 days. They are: Patna (Bihar), Nadia (West Bengal), Pratapgarh (Rajasthan), Gir Somnath, Porbandar (Gujarat), Bhadradari Kothagudem (Telangana), South Goa (Goa), Pauri Garhwal (Uttarakhand), Pilibhit (Uttar Pradesh), Rajouri (Jammu & Kashmir), Imphal West (Manipur), Bilaspur, Durg & Rajnandgaon, Raipur (Chhattisgarh), Aizawl West (Mizoram), Davangere, Kodaggu, Tumkur, Udupi and Bellary (Karnataka), Wayanad and Kottayam (Kerala), SBS Nagar, Hoshiarpur (Punjab), Panipat, Rohtak (Haryana), and Shivpuri (Madhya Pradesh).

The Group of Ministers (GoM) headed by Health Minister Harsh Vardhan held its 12th meeting here today to discuss the impact of the extended lockdown and to draw up a further roadmap.

The meeting also reviewed the efforts by various Science & Technology institutions to deal with COVID-19 in diagnosis, vaccines, drugs, hospital equipment accessories and general wellness.

An official press release said that the Department of Science & Technology, Department of Bio-Technology, Council of Scientific & Industrial Research (CSIR), Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and Dept. of Atomic Energy (DEA) and Ministry of Health and Family Welfare were working together to create new rapid and accurate diagnostics that may give results within 30 minutes; augment testing capacity through their 30 labs; development of innovative pooling strategies to boost the number of people that can be tested; indigenous synthesis of critical components that are limiting domestic test kit production; and increase viral sequencing, which can help in epidemiology and to identify potentially important mutations.

Progress is also reported on vaccines development spanning inactivated virus, antibodies to major antigens, monoclonal, and RNA-based vaccines. Convalescent plasma therapy has also been initiated on some sites, the release said.

According to it, the Government is working with global partners to ensure that effective vaccines can be developed, and made available as soon as possible. India is a participant in the SOLIDARITY trial of the World Health Organization, through which the effectiveness of these therapies is being determined. Scientific task forces are evaluating existing approved drugs and repurpose them for COVID-19. CSIR has progressed into an indigenous synthesis of multiple promising anti-viral molecules such as Umifenovir, Favipiravir. Phytopharmaceuticals and leads from traditional medical systems are also being explored in parallel along with Ministry of AYUSH.

Production of ancillary support devices such as personal protective equipment, oxygen concentrators, ventilators, CSIR engineering labs is being augmented by indigenous designs of Sree Chitra Tiurumalai Institute of Medical Science and Technology (SCTIMST) under DST. Indigenous manufacturing of RT-PCR kits had started and will produce 10 lakh kits per month from May 2020.

Manufacturing of Rapid Antibody detection kits will also start with a capacity of 10 lakh kits per month by May 2020. Five lakh Rapid Antibody test kits are distributed in all States and districts on the basis of high case burden. The present ventilator manufacturing capacity is 6,000 ventilators per month. Necessary efforts in areas of diagnostics, therapeutics and vaccines are being monitored on a war footing by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.

Additionally, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has shared forecasting tools with States/District administrators for better planning of infrastructure across different COVID facilities based on the assessment of caseloads.

Cumulatively, 1,919 dedicated COVID-19 hospitals have been identified at both Centre and State level which includes: 672 Dedicated COVID Hospitals (DCH) (with 107830 isolation beds and 14742 ICU beds) and 1,247 Dedicated COVID Health Centres (DCHC) (with total of 65916 isolation beds and 7064 ICU beds).

Hence, a total of 1,919 facilities having 1,73,746 isolation beds and total ICU beds 21,806 are available, the release said.

The Ministry said that, before the lockdown, India’s doubling rate was about 3 days. For the past seven days, the doubling rate is 6.2 days.

As many as 19 States/UTs (Kerala, Uttarakhand, Haryana, Ladakh, Himachal, Chandigarh, Puducherry, Bihar, Odisha, Telangana, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Delhi, UP, Karnataka, J&K, Punjab, Assam, Tripura) are presently showing a longer doubling rate, which is better than the national average, which indicates that the rate of increase of cases in these places has been reduced to some extent.

An average Growth Factor of 1.2 since 1st April 2020 as compared to 2.1 in the two weeks proceeding that (15th March to 31st March) is observed, which is about a 40% decline (2.1-1.2)/2.1 in Growth Factor.