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Maharashtra, Punjab, Karnataka, Gujarat and Chhattisgarh continue to report a high number of daily coronavirus cases, accounting for 80.63% of the new infections, the Union Health Ministry said on Friday.

"Some states in the country are reporting a surge in the daily new Covid-19 cases. Maharashtra, Punjab, Karnataka, Gujarat and Chhattisgarh together account for 80.63% of the daily new cases," according to a statement.

Around 39,726 fresh cases were reported in a span of 24 hours. Maharashtra continues to record the highest daily new cases at 25,833, 65% of the daily cases, followed by Punjab with 2,369 while Kerala reported 1,899 new cases.

India recorded over 30,000 new cases today for the second consecutive day. Today's surge is nearly 11% higher than the daily spike in cases recorded yesterday morning. The country has been recording more than 20,000 cases since last week.

In terms of response, the Centre is actively engaging with all state and Union Territories (UTs) governments, especially those showing an upsurge in daily new cases and with a high caseload of active cases. The government is regularly reviewing the status of Covid-19 containment and public health measures with them, as per the statement.

States/UTs have been advised to improve testing in districts reporting a reduction in testing and increase the overall share of RT-PCR tests (more than 70%), especially in districts dependent on high levels of antigen testing in line with the 'Test Track and Treat' strategy of the government.

The Ministry also advised states/UTs to carry out an average close contact tracing of a minimum of 20 persons per positive case (in the first 72 hours) along with isolation and early treatment of the serious cases as per clinical protocol.

It is also advised to focus on surveillance and stringent containment of those areas in selected districts that are seeing cluster of cases and focus on clinical management in districts reporting higher deaths.

The Centre advised that the states and UTs should also follow up on sending samples for genome testing to track virus variants of concern.

"All states/UTs have been tagged to 10 national labs under the INSACOG consortium with National Center for Disease Control (NCDC) as the nodal institute. States/UTs have been asked to limit the gathering in public places along with promoting COVID-appropriate behaviour through communication and enforcement and accelerate vaccination for priority population groups in districts reporting higher cases," read the Ministry's statement.

Moreover, the Centre has advised the states and UTs to accelerate the pace of COVID-19 vaccination drive.

Recently, the government had deputed high-level public health teams to Maharashtra and Punjab to assist in COVID-19 control and containment measures in view of recent spike in cases in these states.

The Centre had earlier deputed high-level teams to Maharashtra, Kerala, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Punjab, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, and Jammu and Kashmir to support them in their fight against the recent spike in COVID-19 cases.

"The reports of Central Teams are shared with the States for further follow up action. The follow up and compliance on part of states is monitored by the Union Ministry of Health," according to the statement.

India's total active caseload stands at 2.71 lakh (2,71,282) today, 2.82% of the total positive cases in the country. A net incline of 18,918 cases recorded from the total active caseload in the last 24 hours.

Maharashtra, Kerala and Punjab account for 76.48% of country's total active cases.

Nearly 4 crore (3,93,39,817) vaccine doses have been administered through 6,47,480 sessions, as per the provisional report till 7 am today which include 76,35,188 health care workers (HCWs) who got the first dose, 47,15,173 received second dose. Whereas, 78,33,278 front line worker (FLW) got the first dose and 21,98,414 received the second dose.

27,79,998 beneficiaries aged more than 45 years with specific comorbidities received the first dose and 1,41,77,766 beneficiaries aged more than 60 years.

As on March 18, 2021, which was day-62 of the vaccination drive, over 22 lakh (22,02,861) vaccine doses were administered. Of these, 18,32,287 beneficiaries were vaccinated across 32,128 sessions for the first dose (HCWs and FLWs) and 3,70,574 HCWs and FLWs received the second dose of vaccine.

India's cumulative recoveries stand at 1,10,83,679 today. The national recovery rate is at 96.56%.

Sixteen States/UTs, including Andhra Pradesh, Chandigarh, Odisha, Uttarakhand, Jharkhand, Lakshadweep and Sikkim have not reported any COVID-19 deaths in the last 24 hours.

The spike in coronavirus cases comes ahead of assembly elections in four states - Assam, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal and Kerala - and one union territory - Puducherry - that begin next week.

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