Union health minister Harsh Vardhan reviewed the Covid-19 situation in “11 states of concern” on Tuesday, and attributed the surge in infections to large-scale weddings, local body elections and farmers’ protests, among others.

The Centre has categorised Maharashtra, Punjab, Chhattisgarh, Delhi, Gujarat, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan as “states of grave concern” due to rising daily cases and higher daily deaths.

Addressing a video conference with state health ministers, the minister said: “This is an event-driven surge because of large-scale weddings, local body elections and farmers’ protest.”

“These states have been reporting very high rise in daily cases and daily mortality because of Covid-19 in the last two weeks. These 11 states together contributed 54% of the total cases and 65% of the total deaths in the country, with a disproportionately high number of deaths in Maharashtra and Punjab,” he added.

On Tuesday, India added a record 115,320 new cases, to take its overall tally of cases to 11,789,781; 630 people died from Covid-19 on Tuesday. Of these, Maharashtra topped with 55,469, followed by Chhattisgarh (9,921). A high test positivity rate, of about 25%, has been reported from Maharashtra, and 14% from Chhattisgarh. He pointed out that since February 2021, these states have witnessed a steep increase in cases, a majority of which has been reported among people between the ages of 15 and 44. Also, a majority of the deaths have been reported among those above 60, he added.

The minister also appreciated the fact that states were trying to increase the number of Covid-19 testing, but cautioned against the high rapid antigen testing proportion in Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Maharashtra. He assured to help the states in containing the spread of the virus. “The Centre has been and shall continue to support the States and UTs through all possible recourses to fight the global pandemic. While the cases are on the rise since the past few weeks, the national cumulative fatality rate has become 1.30% now,” he said.

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