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Over 67% of people above 18 years of age have been exposed to SARS CoV2 virus which causes covid-19, according to the latest national serological survey conducted by World Health Organization (WHO) in association with the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS).

The survey findings released by the union health ministry on Friday also showed that almost people aged below 18 years were infected in the same proportion.

“The seropositivity rate was found to be 67% in persons above 18 and 59% in people below 18 years of age. In urban areas, the sero positivity was found to be 78% in persons below 18 and 79% in those above 18 years of age," Dr V K Paul, member health, NITI Aayog.

“In rural areas, the seropositivity rate was 56% in persons below 18 years of age and 63% in persons above 18. The infection was found to be almost same in both the age groups," he said.

As far as children are concerned, the children were infected, but it was very mild. Only isolated cases of infection may occur in children in the next covid-19 wave, Paul indicated.

As the government has administered around 27 crores covid-19 vaccine doses so far, Paul citing scientific studies said that vaccination reduces chances of hospitalisation in covid-19 patients by 75-80%.

“Studies show that chances of hospitalisation are 75-80% percent less in vaccinated individuals. The possibility of such individuals needing oxygen support is around eight percent and the risk of ICU admission is only 6% in vaccinated persons," said Paul.

India has reported over 62,480 new cases in last 24 hours and 1591 deaths due to covid-19. According to the government data, there an almost 85% decline in cases since the highest reported peak in daily new cases. Also, there is a decline of 30% in average daily new cases in last week. There is a reduction of 384 districts indicating containment of infection in relatively limited territories. Consistent decline in active cases – presently 7.98 lakh active cases, the union health ministry data shows.

“There has been a decline by 78.6% - decrease in active cases by more than 29.4 lakhs since peak on 10th May and there is a consistent increase in recovery rate since 3rd May – it currently stands at 96.0%," said Lav Agarwal, joint secretary, union health ministry.

Meanwhile, the Union Health Ministry on Friday asked all states and Union Territories to review in detail and ensure prompt steps for the safety and wellbeing of healthcare workers while strictly implementing the amended Epidemic Disease Act.

Agarwal in a letter to additional chief secretaries, principal secretaries and health secretaries of all states and Union Territories, said, "Our endeavours to manage covid-19 are replete with examples of commitment by our healthcare workers at all levels. While the country at large has applauded the efforts of the health fraternity, there were examples of them being stigmatized and even violence resorted to against healthcare workers.

Recently, there have been reports of physical violence against doctors, healthcare workers and other professionals particularly from Assam, West Bengal and Karnataka, the letter stated.

"Such incidents impact the morale of our healthcare workforce who have shown exemplary commitment against all odds in covid-19 management. Considering the importance of the issue, it is requested that all states may undertake a detailed review and ensure that prompt and necessary steps are taken for healthcare workers safety and wellbeing besides strict implementation of the amended Epidemic Disease Act," the letter reads.

On April 22 last year, the Health Ministry had issued an ordinance to amend the Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897, providing protection to healthcare personnel and their property against violence during epidemics. It was notified as an act on September 29, 2020.

The amended Act states that "whoever commits or abets the commission of an act of violence against healthcare service personnel, or causes damage or loss to any property" shall be punished with imprisonment and with a fine. Such offences are also cognizable and non-bailable, the letter highlighted.

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