The Union health ministry on Thursday said that 89.57% of the 16,738 new coronavirus cases were reported from just seven states. With the new cases, India’s tally rose to 1,10,46,914. The new cases are nearly 22% higher than Wednesday’s count. The country’s toll climbed to 1,56,705 as 138 deaths were reported in the last 24 hours.

The number of active cases stood at 1,51,708, while the number of recoveries reached 1,07,38,501. So far, more than 1.26 crore health and frontline workers have been vaccinated against the coronavirus.

Maharashtra continued to report the highest daily new cases with 8,807 infections – its sharpest one-day rise in four months. Cases in Mumbai nearly doubled in comparison to Tuesday. Maharashtra was followed by Kerala with 4,106. The daily cases in other states were below the thousand mark, with Punjab – reporting the third-highest number of cases – registering 558 infections.

The Centre on Wednesday announced that it will begin vaccinating people above the age of 60 and those above 45 with comorbidities from March 1. Vaccination at government hospitals will be free of cost.

Seven states that account for nearly 90% of the India's new coronavirus cases. (Source: PIB)

Meanwhile, a government panel deferred its decision on granting emergency-use authorisation to Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine, Hindustan Times reported. Hyderabad-based Dr Reddy’s Laboratories, which had submitted the application for emergency use, was asked to come back with more data.

The government is on alert as several states are registering an increase in coronavirus cases. It deputed high-level multi-disciplinary teams to states to support their coronavirus response. Delhi and West Bengal have made it mandatory for travellers coming in from states where coronavirus cases are increasing to show negative coronavirus test certificates.

Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.

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Maharashtra logs 8,807 new Covid infections – sharpest rise in 4 months; Mumbai cases nearly double

In Washim district, 229 students and four teaching and non-teaching staff tested positive for the coronavirus, reported Mint. The school was declared a containment zone. The students are mostly from Amravati and Yavatmal, two districts that are experiencing a sharp rise in infections, NDTV reported.

Washim had been in the news over a large gathering near a temple on Tuesday in violation of Covid-19 protocols. Thousands of supporters of Shiv Sena minister Sanjay Rathod gathered there as he visited the shrine.

The administration in Maharashtra’s Nagpur city directed restaurants and hotels to remain closed over the weekends till further notice, PTI reported.

Meanwhile in Amravati district, researchers had detected the “E484 K” mutation in four infected samples. Since this mutation was found in the new, fast-spreading strains in the United Kingdom, South Africa and Brazil, district officials were concerned that the variant could transmit quickly across Maharashtra and the country.

The Centre also confirmed on Tuesday that besides the United Kingdom coronavirus variant, cases of the South African and Brazilian strains had also been detected in India. However, it refused to link the mutations to the surge in cases in some states.

All India Institute of Medical Sciences Director Randeep Guleria said it didn’t seem like the mutations were more infectious or the vaccines won’t work against them, ANI reported. “We should not miss out on strains which are more infectious,” he cautioned.

Global updates

  1. The coronavirus has infected 11.25 crore people across the world, according to Johns Hopkins University. More than 24 lakh people have died of the infection. The number of recoveries has gone up to 6.34 crore.
  2. United States regulators said that Johnson & Johnson’s single-dose vaccine offered strong protection against severe cases of the coronavirus, AP reported. The vaccine could become the third shot to be cleared in the country after Pfizer and Moderna.
  3. Meanwhile, a real-world test of the Pfizer vaccine confirmed that just one dose is very effective in preventing a serious illness or death, AP reported. These results were obtained from a mass vaccination drive in Israel.
  4. American biotechnology firm Moderna said that its vaccine for the South African coronavirus variant was ready for testing, AFP reported.