Odishatv Bureau

New Delhi: The total number of Covid-19 cases in the country climbed to 31,332 on Wednesday morning, the Union Health Ministry said. Of the total cases, 22,629 are active, 7,695 people have recovered, and 1007 people have succumbed to the disease.

As many as 73 deaths & 1897 new cases have been reported in India in the last 24 hours due to novel-Coronavirus, the sharpest ever increase in death cases in the country.

Maharashtra remained the worst-hit state with the total number of cases rising to 9,318, with 400 deaths and 1,388 people recovering from the deadly virus. Gujarat was the next which has reported 3,744 cases so far followed by Delhi which has reported 3,314 cases, according to the Health Ministry data.

The other states which have seen a sharp rise in cases are Madhya Pradesh (2,387), Rajasthan (2,364), Tamil Nadu (2,058) and Uttar Pradesh (2,053).

Maharashtra has recorded 400 deaths, the highest number of fatalities among all the states. The western state is followed by Gujarat at 181 deaths, Madhya Pradesh at 120 and New Delhi at 54 deaths.

Among other major states, Andhra Pradesh has reported 1,259 while 31 have died, Bihar stood at 366 cases and two deaths, Haryana 310 and three deaths, Jammu and Kashmir at 565 cases and eight deaths, Karnataka at 523 and 20 deaths and Kerala was docked at 485 cases and four deaths.

States which have reported less than 10 cases are Tripura, Mizoram, Puducherry, Manipur, Goa and Arunachal Pradesh.

The Ministry cautioned there could be life-threatening complications if proper guidelines are not followed in administering the plasma therapy, in which blood plasma is transfused from a recovered COVID-19 patient to a critically-ill person.

The therapy, currently in the trial stage, works on a principle that immunity can be transferred from a healthy person to a sick patient using antibodies in convalescent plasma.

As per the latest figures announced by various states and union territories, more than 31,200 people have been tested positive for this deadly virus across the country. At least 1,005 have died, but nearly 7,200 have recovered too.

The figures suggest that an average of about one in 25 has tested positive so far. Among those having tested positive, one in 30 has died on an average, while the ratio of those having recovered is approximately one in four.

There has been a widespread hope that plasma therapy can be a possible treatment for COVID-19 after the Delhi government said it has seen encouraging results on some patients, while few other states including Rajasthan and Karnataka have also begun the trials.

Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath directed officials on Tuesday itself to encourage use of plasma therapy, while steps are already underway at various places to create 'plasma banks'. Several people who have recovered after contracting the virus have offered to donate their plasma for treatment of others.

At his daily press briefing on the COVID-19 situation, Union Health Ministry Joint Secretary Lav Agarwal said the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has launched a national-level study to check the efficacy of the plasma therapy, but till this study is completed and a robust scientific proof is available, this therapy should be used only for research or trial purpose.

"If plasma therapy is not used in a proper manner under proper guidelines, then it can also cause life-threatening complications," Agarwal said.

The Health Ministry official, however, said the recovery rate of COVID-19 patients has as such improved to 23.3 per cent of total cases.

In its 5 PM update, the Ministry said the COVID-19 death toll has risen to 937, after more than 50 deaths since Monday evening including in Maharashtra, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Jammu & Kashmir, while the number of cases has climbed to 29,974. According to the ministry data, 1,594 new cases have been reported since Monday evening.

The number of active COVID-19 cases stands at 22,010, while 7,026 people have recovered and one patient has migrated, the ministry said.

On a positive note, Agarwal pointed said 20 nations, which have reported maximum number of COVID-19 cases, have seen 200 times more deaths and 84 times more cases than India.

The combined population of these 20 countries is almost equal to that of India, the official said, while attributing this to India's response being "proactive, preemptive and graded towards tackling the challenge of COVID-19 crisis".

Separately, Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan said India will be self-reliant in producing RT-PCR (Reverse Transcription Polymerase Chain Reaction) and antibody testing kits by May-end that will enable it to conduct one lakh tests a day.

While RT-PCR is considered key for a reliable diagnosis in fighting COVID-19, ICMR had to stop use of rapid antibody test kits the country had procured from two Chinese suppliers after some states flagged their faulty results.

The minister also said exhorted scientists working on developing new vaccines, new drugs and medical equipment, to speed up their work.

"Out of at least half a dozen candidates supported for vaccines, four are in an advanced stage and regulatory platform at one place has been constituted for speedy clearances," he said.

Vardhan also said 80 districts in the country have not reported any new COVID-19 case in the last seven days, while 47 districts have not registered any fresh case in the last 14 days.

Maharashtra has reported the maximum cases at over 9,300 and at least 400 deaths. Gujarat has over 3,700 cases, while Delhi also has more than 3,300 confirmed cases. Each of Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Uttar Pradesh have reported more than 2,000 cases.

A nationwide lockdown has been imposed till May 3 to check the virus spread, which has claimed more than two lakh lives worldwide and over 30 lakh people have got infected since it first emerged in China last December.

Several countries have implemented lockdown and other containment measures, though some of them including New Zealand, France and Switzerland have begun relaxing those curbs.

(With Agency Inputs)