Virus mutated in Jan/Feb, spread more rapidly: AIIMS chief on Covid surge

Randeep Guleria (Photo: ANI)
As India witnessed a whopping 234,692 coronavirus cases within a span of 24 hours on Saturday, AIIMS Director explained why the country suddenly found itself in the grip of a severe second wave. 

"The cause for the surge in Covid cases is multifactorial. But two main causes are when in January/February vaccination started, cases started going down and people stopped following Covid-appropriate behaviour and at this time the virus mutated and it spread more rapidly," said Dr Randeep Guleria.

He also spoke about the massive pressure on the country's health infrastructure as the second Covid wave continues to intensify. 

"We are seeing a huge strain in the healthcare system. We have to keep increasing our hospital beds/resources for the increasing number of cases. We also have to urgently bring down the number of Covid-19 cases," Guleria said. 

The AIIMS chief also weighed in on the Kumbh Mela and other ongoing religious activities. 

"This is a time when a lot of religious activities happen in our country and polls are also underway. We must understand lives are also important. We can do this in a restricted manner so that religious sentiment is not hurt and Covid-appropriate behaviour can be followed," said Guleria. 

He also said that vaccine hesitancy needs to be eschewed among the citizens to rid the country of the fatal disease. 

"We have to remember that no vaccine is 100% efficient. You may get the infection but the antibodies in our body will not allow the virus to multiply and you'll not have the severe disease," said Guleria.

"We have now a larger spike in Delhi as compared to 6-7 months ago. In terms of health infrastructure and containment, what we were doing in the past we need to do that again," he added. 

A record single-day rise of 234,692 cases and 1,341 fatalities have pushed India's COVID-19 tally to 14,526,609 and the death toll due to the viral disease to 175,649, the health ministry said on Saturday.

The number of active coronavirus cases in the country has surpassed the 1.6-million mark, the ministry's data updated at 8 am showed.

Registering a steady increase for the 38th day in a row, the tally of active COVID-19 cases has climbed to 1,679,740 in the country, accounting for 11.56 per cent of its total caseload, while the national COVID-19 recovery rate has dropped to 87.23 per cent.

The number of people who have recuperated from the disease has gone up to 12,671,220, while the case fatality rate has further dropped to 1.21 per cent, the data stated.

India's COVID-19 tally had crossed the 2-million mark on August 7 last year, the 3-million mark on August 23, the 4-million mark on September 5 and the 5-million mark on September 16.

It went past 6 million on September 28 last year, 7 million on October 11, 8 million on October 29, 9 million on November 20 and the 10-million mark on December 19.

Of the fresh cases, Maharashtra reported 63,729, followed by Uttar Pradesh (27,426) and Delhi (19,486), according to the data. All three states registered the highest daily spike in the number of coronavirus cases since the outbreak of the pandemic last year. West Bengal, where Assembly polls are underway, also recorded the highest-ever daily jump of 6,910 cases.

Maharashtra also reported the maximum number of fresh casualties at 398, followed by Delhi (141), Chhattisgarh (138), Uttar Pradesh (103), Gujarat (94), Karnataka (78), Madhya Pradesh (60), Punjab (50), Tamil Nadu (33) and Rajasthan (31).

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