by Peerzada Arshad Hamid
NEW DELHI, May 23 (Xinhua) -- India on Saturday reported the biggest single-day spike in COVID-19 cases during the last 24 hours, pushing the infection tally across country to 125,101, the federal health ministry said.
According to the ministry data, the death toll has risen to 3,720 after 137 people died in the last 24 hours.
It was the second time in a week that the tally of COVID-19 cases has surged by over 6,000 in one day.
On Friday, 6,088 new cases were recorded in the country within the span of 24 hours.
The government data suggested that nearly 25,000 cases have been reported in the last four days after restrictions were eased following the imposition of the fourth phase of the lockdown in country.
Health officials attributed the spike in cases to the increase in India's testing capacity, which, over the last two months, has increased by 100 times - from 1,000 tests per day in March to 100,000 tests daily this month.
As per the country's top health research body, Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), until Saturday morning over 2.83 million samples have been tested. The research body said during the last 24 hours 115,364 samples were tested.
The recovery rate of COVID-19 patients Saturday increased to 41.39 percent as 51,783 people have been cured across the country.
According to government data released by Indian government's top policy think tank - National Institution for Transforming India (NITI) Aayog (commission) member Vinod Paul on Friday, the first and second phase of the lockdown managed to significantly slow down the virus transmission rate in the country and averted between 1.4 million and 2.9 million COVID-19 cases, besides 54,000 related deaths.
"The situation would have been much worse, as the data suggests. We have about 95 percent confidence level on the data generated out of all this analysis, which is proof enough to say that the country is on the right track. Having said that, this kind of analysis is always prone to improvisations, depending on the kind of data that's fed," Paul said.
Maharashtra state reported the highest number of cases in the last 24 hours with 2,940 new patients, followed by 784 cases in Tamil Nadu. The two states have the highest number of cases in India. While Maharashtra has recorded over 44,000 cases so far, Tamil Nadu has reported over 14,000 patients.
Indian capital city Delhi has the fourth highest number of cases in the country (12,319). The city recorded 660 new patients on Friday as the number of containment zones, where restrictions are in place to contain the illness, rose from 79 to 92 in a single day.
On Wednesday federal civil aviation minister Hardeep Singh Puri announced domestic passenger flights will resume from May 25 in a "calibrated manner." The ministry has issued fresh guidelines for the passengers and flights. However, as the bookings began, Tamil Nadu government on Friday amid spurt in the number of cases, appealed to the federal government to rethink its decision on resumption of flights.
Saturday marks the 60th straight day of ongoing lockdown across the country announced by the central government to contain the spread of the pandemic.
The lockdown, which was announced on March 25 to break the chain of infection, is likely to end on May 31. Enditem