STATE TIMES NEWSNew Delhi: The nationwide tally of COVID-19 cases crossed 1.47 lakh on Tuesday with states like Bihar, West Bengal, Assam and Odisha reporting significant rise in their numbers amid large-scale return of migrant workers from other states. Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik warned of more challenging days ahead and called for a new strategy to check the pandemic. The numbers rose further in the worst-hit states including Maharashtra, Gujarat and Tamil Nadu as well, while Delhi, Punjab, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Kerala, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh also figured among the states and union territories reporting new cases. Some experts flagged an urgent need for more intense surveillance and monitoring in areas where migrants have returned to contain the outbreak and warned that their tallies may go up due to resumption of domestic flights on top of the special trains and flights. The Union Health Ministry, however, said the recovery rate for COVID-19 cases in the country has seen an upwards trend and is better than many other countries, while the fatality has fallen further. At a press briefing, Health Ministry Joint Secretary Lav Agarwal said, “The recovery rate in the country continues to improve and is presently 41.61 per cent. The COVID-19 fatality rate has reduced from 3.3 per cent on April 15 to 2.87 per cent which is among the lowest in the world.” In its morning update, the Ministry said the COVID-19 death toll has risen to 4,167 and the number of cases has climbed to 1,45,380 in the country, registering an increase of 146 deaths and 6,535 cases since Monday 8 AM. It put the number of active cases at more than 80,000 and recoveries at over 60,000. However, a PTI tally of figures announced by different states and UTs, as of 9.30 PM, put the total number of confirmed cases across the country at 1,47,505 and a death toll of 4,268. It also showed a higher number of recoveries at over 63,500. The Union Health Ministry suggested to the five states reporting a surge in COVID-19 cases over the last three weeks to analyse the trends in containment zones and adopt course correction measures through proper implementation of micro-plans. These states are Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh. Several states have been attributing the increase in their tallies to arrival of people from outside in special trains, being run since May 1 to ferry migrant workers to their native places, and special international flights that began on May 1 to bring back stranded Indians and expatriates from abroad. Many experts have warned that the return of migrant workers to their native places may create a huge labour shortage and further hit the economy, which is facing a deep recession due to the pandemic and restrictions related to the nationwide lockdown, in force since March 25. Rating agency CRISIL predicted a GDP decline of 5 per cent for the current fiscal and a staggering 25 per cent contraction in the current quarter (April-June 2020). “About 10 per cent of the gross domestic product (GDP) in real terms could be permanently lost. So going back to the growth rates seen before the pandemic is unlikely in the next three fiscals,” it said. Several relaxations have been given in the ongoing fourth phase of the lockdown, which began on May 18 and is scheduled to continue till May 31, to revive economic activities. While domestic flights have also resumed, a chaotic situation continued for the second day amid several cancellations. Congress leader Rahul Gandhi said the four phases of the nationwide lockdown have “failed” and not given the results that Prime Minister Narendra Modi expected. Addressing an online press conference, he urged the Centre to spell out its strategy for “opening up” the country and expressed concern that India is the only country which is relaxing the lockdown when the virus is “exponentially rising”. The ruling BJP, however, said the doubling rate of coronavirus infection has fallen to 13 days from three before the lockdown and called it a “success” of India. BJP leader and Union minister Prakash Javadekar said the Modi government’s decision to impose the lockdown has ensured that India suffered much less than countries like the US, France and Spain. He took a swipe at the Congress, saying it is doing politics at a time when the nation is fighting the COVID-19 pandemic. India is now among the ten worst hit countries by the novel coronavirus and several experts have attributed the surge in cases to easing of travel restrictions and movement of migrants besides enhanced testing capacity.
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