Minister of State for Health Ashwini Kumar Choubey on Tuesday told Rajya Sabha that after the peak of the coronavirus pandemic curve in mid-September, infections count saw a decline till February 2, following which an upward trend in the trajectory was witnessed.

In a written reply, Choubey said that the first quarter of 2021 has more cases compared to the same period last year.

“Government of India adopted a proactive, pre-emptive and graded response to deal with unprecedented global crisis Covid-19 pandemic and issued various guidelines to contain the spread of Covid-19 in the country,” the minister said in reply to a question if physical distancing norms were still in operation. “Recently Ministry of Home Affairs issued guidelines on containment, surveillance and caution vide order dated 27.01.2021 which has been extended to be effective up to 31.03.2021 wide order dated 26.02.2021.”

On another question about the measures taken to combat the reported second spike of Covid-19, Choubey said any surge in cases reported and the need for institutionalising necessary public health measures are taken up with the states concerned through formal communication, video conferences and the deployment of central teams.

Meanwhile, Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan told the Rajya Sabha that Covid-19 vaccines to foreign countries were not being sent at the expense of Indian citizens, reported The Hindu. He said that 5.94 crore vaccine doses have been sent to 72 foreign countries till now.

“Science is global,” the health minister said. “The technology could be local but the benefit should be shared with all.”

He said that 30 lakh people were vaccinated against the coronavirus in India on Monday itself and till now up to 3 crore people have been inoculated.

“Even today among the priority groups if anyone who wants a vaccine can register on Co-Win portal and get vaccinated,” Vardhan said. “Vaccine is free in all government hospitals. Private hospitals can only charge Rs 250. Rs 100 has been fixed for hospital arrangement.”

Congress member Shakti Sinh Gohil claimed that the pace of vaccination was slow, saying that so far only 0.35% population has been vaccinated. “At this rate, it will take 18 years to complete the vaccination process of entire population,” Gohil said.

India on Tuesday registered 24,492 new coronavirus cases, taking the overall count to 1,14,09,83, data from the Union health ministry showed. It was the sixth day of the country recording over 20,000 cases. India’s toll rose to 1,58,856, with 131 deaths reported in 24 hours. Active cases went up by 4,170 to 2,23,432. The number of recoveries reached 1,10,27,543.