The rise in the number of cases was reported amidst the discovery of several new variants of the novel coronavirus in Maharashtra that are believed to be more transmissible than the prevailing variants.
In Maharashtra’s Vidharbha region and Mumbai, the discovery of new variants has prompted the local authorities to impose a fresh lockdown and issue new guidelines for the general public, respectively.
Cases rising since five consecutive days
The number of daily cases in the country had been consistently falling since the last few months. On Friday, 13,993 cases were reported in the country. This was the highest figure reported since January 25 — barring the exception of January 29 when 18,885 cases were reported.
In point of fact, the number of daily cases have been rising for five consecutive days — 9,121 (Feb 16), 11,610 (Feb 17), 12,881 (Feb 18), 13,193 (Feb 19) and 13,993 (Feb 20).
Since witnessing its peak number of cases (97,894) on September 17, 2020, there has been only one occasion when the number of cases has risen for five consecutive days. The last five-consecutive-day rise was seen from November 17 to November 21.
Daily cases rising in at least four states
In the last few days, cases have been rising in at least four states — Kerala, Maharashtra, Punjab and Madhya Pradesh.
Kerala, after successfully tackling the virus in the initial days of the pandemic, appears to be grappling with the recent surge in cases. On February 3, Kerala overtook Karnataka in total Covid-19 cases to emerge as the second worst-affected state in India after Maharashtra.
The state has the highest number of active cases (60,087), which is nearly 42% of the country’s total active cases.
In Maharashtra, the discovery of a new strain of the virus has led to a rise in the number of cases, particularly in the eastern part of the state. The state reported more than 6,000 cases for the second day in a row. This was the first time after six months that the state recorded more than 6,000 cases in a single day.
Of the 6,281 new cases reported on Saturday, over 1,700 or about 27% were recorded in Mumbai and Amravati municipal corporation areas.
A new virus strain, which was discovered in Amravati and Akola, is believed to be more transmissible and triggers early pneumonia. Dr Subhash Salunkhe, an adviser to the state government, believes that the spread could from Nagpur to Aurangabad. Three districts in the Vidharbha region have been reporting unusually high positive rate during testing.
Punjab & Madhya Pradesh
Similar to Maharashtra, the Union health ministry said Punjab has also shown a sudden spike in the number of daily new cases reported in the last seven days with 383 fresh cases recorded in the last 24 hours. Since, February 13, Madhya Pradesh is also witnessing a rise in the number of daily new cases. In the last 24 hours, 297 daily new cases have been registered in the state.