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As there has been a consistent decline in the fresh cases of covid-19 in India, public health experts have said that there is a possibility that the country is moving towards herd immunity for the highly infectious disease.

According to the union health ministry, at least 12,584 daily new cases were added to the national tally in the last 24 hours after nearly seven months. The daily new cases were 12,881 on 18th June, 2020.

There has been a fall in daily fatalities too with 167 daily deaths recorded in the last 24 hours. India’s active caseload has fallen to 2,16,558 today. The share of Active Cases in the total Positive Cases has further compressed to 2.07% of the cumulative caseload. A net decline of 5,968 cases has been recorded in the total active cases in last 24 hours, according to the union health ministry.

“The fall in new cases is mostly because the population in dense urban areas and metros which has been infected has crossed a threshold, while in the rural areas, the same population density will not be there. So, the possibility of a rise in number of cases in rural areas will be limited. Also, in rural areas, testing levels in rural areas are not as good as metros and other urban areas. While there will be fewer cases in rural areas, less testing will also be an issue," Giridhar Babu, head of life course epidemiology at Public Health Foundation of India said.

At least 70.08% of the new cases are concentrated in seven States and UTs. Kerala reported the maximum daily new cases numbering 3,110in the last 24 hours. Maharashtra recorded 2,438 new cases while Chhattisgarh reported 853 new cases yesterday, the union health ministry said. Five States/UTs account for 62.28% of the 167case fatalities reported in the past 24 hours. Maharashtra reported 40 deaths. Kerala and West Bengal follow with 20 and 16 new deaths, respectively, the government said. The total number of persons found to be positive with the new UK variant genome stands at 96 on Tuesday, the union health ministry said adding that there has been no addition in the past 24 hours.

The strict enforcement of social distancing measures and covid appropriate behaviour has also helped in mitigating the disease across states. “The authorities are being strict about social distancing, and more importantly, wearing masks in public places and people are maintaining basic hygiene," said Om Kumar Bharti, epidemiologist at Institute of Health & Family Welfare. Himachal Pradhesh.

The herd immunity can come in two ways, either by natural infection or by vaccination. The coronavirus has already sickened over 1,04, 79, 913 persons so far in India and claimed more than 1,52, 558 lives. The covid-19 vaccination drive that will start from January 16 will further provide immunity to the population.

“Vaccines in India are about to be launched. We are moving towards herd immunity because in India the cases are coming down. One of the classical examples is the Dharavi slum of Maharashtra. As far as the number of cases is concerned, it depends upon testing, and testing is very low in India," Dr Sanjay Rai, Professor, department of Community Medicine at All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS).

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