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Harsh Vardhan said no one should have any doubts about the COVID-19 vaccines | File Photo: Twitter

Drop vaccine scepticism, says Harsh Vardhan as COVID sees new surge

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Amid fears of a looming second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan on Friday urged people to drop their scepticism about the vaccines authorised by the government and take the required shots.

“No one should have any doubts about the COVID-19 vaccines. I urge all to take the vaccine shots,” Vardhan said during the Question Hour in Lok Sabha.

In response to a question, he said the prioritisation of certain groups, like the healthcare workers first and then senior citizens, was done based on expert opinions, both Indian and as that of the WHO. He said these groups will be extended in the coming days.

Vardhan’s statement came on a day the country recorded a new surge in COVID-19 cases – 39,726 new infections in the past 24 hour. This was the highest single-day spike this year that took the tally to 1,15,14,331, according to the Union Health Ministry’s Friday data.

This is the highest rise in cases since November 29, 2020 when the country recorded a single-day spike of 41,810 cases.

Related news: COVID-19: Maharashtra records highest single-day spike of 25,883 cases

Registering an increase for the ninth day in a row, the total active caseload has reached 2,71,282, which now comprises 2.36 per cent of the total infections, while the recovery rate has further dropped to 96.26 per cent, the data stated.

The daily rise in infections (39,726) was the highest recorded in 110 days, while the death toll increased to 1,59,370 with 154 daily new fatalities, the data updated at 8 am showed.

The number of people who have recuperated from the disease surged to 1,10,83,679, while the case fatality rate has further to 1.38 per cent, the data stated.

Maharashtra, which has the most number of infections in the country on Thursday logged in 25,883 fresh COVID-19 cases, the highest recorded by the state since the outbreak of the pandemic in 2020. Punjab, Kerala, Karnataka and Gujarat too have recorded the largest single-day spike of the year.

Prime Minister Narendra during a discussion on the situation with chief ministers said if necessary precautions like ramping up tests and contact tracing are not taken, India may witness a second wave of the pandemic. He said 70 districts have reported over 150 per cent increase in COVID-19 cases recently.

Related news: EU nations to resume Oxford COVID-19 jab after drug regulator says ‘it’s safe’

India’s COVID-19 tally had crossed the 20-lakh mark on August 7, 30 lakh on August 23, 40 lakh on September 5 and 50 lakh on September 16. It went past 60 lakh on September 28, 70 lakh on October 11, crossed 80 lakh on October 29, 90 lakh on November 20 and surpassed the one-crore mark on December 19.

According to ICMR, 23,13,70,546 samples have been tested up to March 18 with 10,57,383 samples being tested on Thursday.

(With inputs from agencies)

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