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Covid caseload breaches 75-lakh mark

New Delhi: The number of new Coronavirus infections reported daily in India dropped below 60,000 for the second time this month, while the number of fresh fatalities registered across the country dipped below 600 almost after three months, the Health ministry data stated on Monday.

A day after a government-appointed panel said the COVID-19 pandemic in India has peaked and may even be controlled by early next year, Union Health minister Harsh Vardhan on October 19 said that by February next year, India would have 40,000 active cases if Covid-appropriate behaviour is followed.

"Science and Technology ministry got scientists from the world to make a prediction model of cases. Research based on their techniques found that Covid appropriate behaviour for 3-4 months will lead to a declining trend in India and by February we'll have 40,000 active cases," a national news agency quoted Vardhan as saying.

Currently, there are 7,72,055 active cases of Coronavirus in India and the number has maintained a "steady declining trend" for the past few days, according to officials.

The total cases mounted to 75,50,273 with 55,722 infections being reported in a day. On October 13, India had last registered daily cases below 60,000.

The death toll climbed to 1,14,610 with 579 fatalities being registered in a span of 24 hours, the data updated at 8 am showed.

The number of recoveries has surged to 66,63,608 and the national recovery rate has improved to 88.26 per cent. The case fatality rate due to COVID-19 stands at 1.52 per cent.

India's COVID-19 tally had crossed the 20-lakh mark on August 7, 30 lakh on August 23 and 40 lakh on September 5. It went past 50 lakh on September 16, 60 lakh on September 28 and crossed 70 lakh on October 11.

According to the ICMR, a cumulative total of 9,50,83,976 samples have been tested up to October 18 with 8,59,786 samples being tested on Sunday.

The 579 new fatalities include 150 from Maharashtra, 64 from West Bengal, 56 from Tamil Nadu, 51 from Karnataka, 39 from Chhattisgarh, 29 from Uttar Pradesh and 28 from Delhi.

A total of 1,14,610 deaths have been reported so far in the country including 42,115 from Maharashtra followed by 10,642 from Tamil Nadu, 10,478 from Karnataka, 6,658 from Uttar Pradesh, 6,429 from Andhra Pradesh, 6,056 from West Bengal, 6,009 from Delhi, 4,012 from Punjab and 3,635 from Gujarat.

The health ministry stressed that more than 70 per cent of the deaths occurred due to comorbidities.

Meanwhile, a member of a Central government committee tasked with providing projections said on Monday that at least half of the country's 1.3 billion people are likely to have been infected with the new Coronavirus by next February, helping slow the spread of the disease.

COVID-19 infections are decreasing after a peak in mid-September with 61,390 new cases reported on average each day, according to a Reuters tally.

"Our mathematical model estimates that around 30 per cent of the population is currently infected and it could go up to 50 per cent by February," Manindra Agrawal, a professor at the Indian Institute for Technology in Kanpur and a committee member, told Reuters.

The committee's estimate for the current spread of the virus is much higher than the Central government's serological surveys, which showed that only around 14 per cent of the population had been infected, as of September.

Experts have warned that infections could rise in the country as the holiday season nears, with celebrations for the festivals of Durga Puja and Diwali due this month and in mid-November, respectively.

Durga Puja pandals will be no-entry zones for visitors, the Calcutta High Court said on Monday — just three days ahead of Bengal's biggest festival. Only organisers will be allowed inside the pandals, the court said, limiting the number to 25 for big pandals and 15 for the smaller ones in view of the pandemic outbreak.

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