The central government has cautioned all the states and union territories that the current surge in COVID-19 cases could swamp the health infrastructure unless urgent measures were taken.
It added that the coronavirus situation is turning from "bad to worse" and is a huge cause for worry, especially for some states.The Centre simultaneously asked all states and union territories to adopt a district-centric approach to fight the upward swing in cases. Each district, irrespective of whether it is seeing a surge or is with low burden, should formulate an action plan with clear timelines and responsibilities, it said.
"We are facing an increasingly severe and intense situation, more so surely in some districts. But the whole country is potentially at risk and therefore all efforts to contain and save lives should be taken," NITI Aayog member (Health) V K Paul said.
"Hospitals and ICUs have to be readied. If cases increase rapidly, the healthcare system would be overwhelmed," Paul warned.
According to the Centre, the 10 districts with maximum active coronavirus caes are Pune (59,475), Mumbai (46,248), Nagpur (45,322), Thane (35,264), Nashik (26,553), Aurangabad (21,282), Bengaluru Urban (16,259), Nanded (15,171), Delhi (8,032) and Ahmednagar (7,952).
Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan said some districts that saw a high number of cases in August-November are again reporting a high growth rate.
"In addition, a number of new districts that saw a limited prevalence earlier are worryingly showing a surge in Covid cases. States, UTs and districts that have current low levels of cases, however, cannot be complacent," Bhushan added.
About the surge in case positivity rates, Bhushan said Maharashtra last week had an average of 23 per cent, followed by Punjab 8.82 per cent, Chattisgarh 8.24 per cent, Madhya Pradesh 7.82 per cent, Tamil Nadu 2.5 per cent, Karnataka 2.45 per cent, Gujarat 2.22 per cent, and Delhi 2.04 per cent.
The daily rise in COVID cases in the worst affected state of Maharashtra has increased from 5,493 on February 17 to 34,456 on March 24. The average per day deaths also increased from 32 on February 10 to 118 on March 24.
The average national positivity rate during last week was 5.65 per cent. About the coronavirus situation in Punjab, Bhushan said in the second week of February, 332 daily new cases were recorded which had now increased to 2,742. The average daily deaths were eight in February, which has risen to 52. The Punjab government, meanwhile, extended COVID curbs for another 10 days.
As per the union health ministry, active cases have risen to 5,40,720, which account for 4.47 per cent of the total infections, while the recovery rate has further dropped to 94.19 per cent.