The government on Tuesday said Covaxin and Covishield vaccines, which are being used in India's vaccination campaign against COVID-19, are effective against the UK and Brazilian variant of the virus, while work against South African variant is currently going on.
Of 11,064 genome samples sequenced in the country, the UK variant of the virus was found in 807 cases, while South African variant was found in 47 cases and the Brazil variant in one, the government informed in a press briefing.
The Centre also called the rise in COVID-19 cases a cause of worry and said the situation has gone from bad to worse recently.
There has been a surge in COVID-19 cases in the country in the last few weeks. India reported 56,211 new COVID-19 cases in the preceding 24 hours on Tuesday.
Union Health Secreatry Rajesh Bhushan said states have been asked to ramp up testing, with focus on RT-PCR tests. Besides, the Centre has also asked states to promptly isolate infected persons and trace their close contacts, strengthen public and private healthcare resources, ensure social distancing and use of masks, and to quickly vaccinate people in the prirority age groups in districts which are reporting a surge in cases.
Saying that states had started opening private hospitals for non-COVID health services, Bhushan said, "We have requested states to once again turn hospitals into dedicated COVID facilities."
While India's positivity rate stands at 5.65 per cent per week, it is much higher in states like Maharashtra (23 per cent), Punjab (8 per cent), Chhattisgarh (8.24 per cent) and Madhya Pradesh (7.82 per cent).
Amongst the top 10 districts with highest number of active cases, eight districts are from Maharashtra. Delhi, if taken as one district, is also among the top 10 COVID-19 high-burden districts. Mumbai, Pune, Nagpur, Thane, Nashik, Bengaluru, Delhi, Ahmednagar and Nanded have the most active COVID-19 cases.
On Tuesday, Delhi reported 992 new COVID-19 cases and 4 more deaths in the preceding 24 hours. While 1,591 people recovered from the infection, the positivity rate in the national capital stood at 2.7 per cent.
India will open COVID-19 vaccination for everyone aged above 45 years from April 1, irrespective of whether they have any co-morbidity or not. Bhushan said everyone in the eligible age group can register on the Co-WIN platform for vaccination or can visit the vaccination centre after 3 pm with any identity document for on-site registration.
(With inputs from PTI)