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According to experts, the biggest reason for the surge in cases is that people feel the pandemic is over and they are not following COVID-appropriate behaviour.

A person checking the temperature of a person during COVID-19 pandemic Image for representation/PTI
Coronavirus Coronavirus Sunday, March 21, 2021 - 15:39

As India witnessed the highest daily tally of COVID-19 cases this year, the Union Health Ministry said on Sunday that Maharashtra, Kerala, Punjab, Karnataka, Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh account for 83.14% of the new infections.

Maharashtra continues to report the highest daily new cases at 27,126. It is followed by Punjab with 2,578 while Kerala reported 2,078 new cases. Karnataka, Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh reported 1,798, 1,565 and 1, 308 infections in a day.

India recorded 43,846 new coronavirus cases in a day, the highest single-day rise so far this year, taking the nationwide COVID-19 tally to 1,15,99,130. Besides, 197 deaths were reported in a span 24 hours, the ministry said adding six states account for 86.8% of the new deaths. Maharashtra saw the maximum casualties (92). Punjab follows with 38 daily deaths. Kerala reported 15 deaths.

Delhi reported over 800 coronavirus cases for the first time this year on Saturday, while two more people succumbed to the pathogen.

The active cases of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) rose to 3,409 from 3,165 a day ago. The positivity rate breached the 1%-mark after over two months, according to a bulletin. Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Punjab, Madhya Pradesh, Delhi, Karnataka, Gujarat and Haryana are displaying an upward trajectory in daily new cases, according to the ministry.

India's total active caseload was recorded over 3.09 lakh (3,09,087) comprising 2.66% of the total infections. A net rise of 20,693 cases recorded from the total active caseload in a span of 24 hours.

According to experts, the biggest reason for the surge in cases is that people feel the pandemic is over and they are not following COVID-appropriate behaviour.

"There are multiple reasons for the surge, but the main reason is that there is change in people's attitude and they feel coronavirus is over. People should still restrict non-essential travel for some more time," AIIMS Director Randeep Guleria said.

Dr V K Paul, NITI Aayog member (Health) said to remain free of this virus, it is very important that COVID-appropriate behaviour, containment strategy, readiness from the health infrastructure point of view as well as vaccination has to be brought in to fight the pandemic.

He advised that in districts where COVID-19 cases are seemingly on the rise, vaccination of eligible individuals should be intensified and prioritised.

States and UTs showing an upsurge in daily new cases and with a high caseload of active cases have been advised by the Centre to improve testing in districts reporting reduction in testing and increase the overall share of RT-PCR tests (more than 70 pc), especially in districts dependent on high levels of antigen testing in line with the Test Track and Treat' strategy of the government.

They have also been advised to carry out an average close contact tracing of minimum of 20 persons per positive case (in the first 72 hours) along with isolation and early treatment of the serious cases as per clinical protocol.

They have been asked to focus on surveillance and stringent containment of those areas in selected districts which are seeing cluster of cases and focus on clinical management in districts reporting higher deaths and that they should also follow up on sending samples for genome testing to track virus variants of concern, officials said.

All states and UTs have been tagged to 10 national labs under the INSACOG consortium with National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) as the nodal institute.

They have been asked to limit the gathering in public places along with promoting COVID-appropriate behaviour through communication and enforcement and accelerate vaccination for priority population groups in districts reporting higher cases.

Accelerating the pace of vaccination has also been stressed upon, officials stated.

India's cumulative recoveries stand at 1,11,30,288 on Sunday.

Seventeen states and UTs have not reported any COVID-19 deaths in a span of 24 hours. These are Rajasthan, Assam, Goa, Uttarakhand, Odisha, Jharkhand, Lakshadweep, Sikkim, Puducherry, Daman and Diu & Dadra and Nagar Haveli, Nagaland, Tripura, Ladakh (UT), Manipur, Mizoram, A&N Islands and Arunachal Pradesh.

Besides, over 4.4 crore (4,46,03,841) vaccine doses have been administered through 7,25,138 sessions, as per the provisional report till Sunday 7 am.

These include 77,79,985 HCWs (first dose), 48,77,356 HCWs (second dose), 80,84,311 FLWs (first dose) and 26,01,298 FLWs (second dose), 36,33,473 beneficiaries aged more than 45 years with specific co-morbidities (first dose) and 1,76,27,418 beneficiaries aged more than 60 years.

As on day 64 of the vaccination drive (March 20), more than 25 lakh (25,40,449) vaccine doses were given. Out of these, 22,83,157 beneficiaries were vaccinated across 38,669 sessions for first dose and 2,57,292 healthcare workers and frontline workers received second dose of vaccine.

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