The centre has deployed 15 teams, consisting of public health experts, epidemiologists and other specialists, to support states in the battle to contain a seemingly relentless wave of COVID-19 infections, Union Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan was informed during the 17th Group of Ministers (GoM) meeting held Saturday afternoon.
The Health Minister was also told that eight states - Maharashtra, Delhi, Tamil Nadu, Gujarat, Telangana, Uttar Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh and West Bengal - had contributed to 85.5 per cent of active caseload and 87 per cent of all COVID-19 related deaths in the country.
Maharashtra (1.53 lakh cases, 7,106 deaths), Delhi (77,240 cases, 2,492 deaths) and Tamil Nadu (74,622 cases, 957 deaths) are the three worst-affected regions, contributing to 63.7 per cent of the active caseload.
Gujarat has reported over 30,000 cases and UP more than 20,000. Telangana has 12,349 cases, Andhra Pradesh 11,489 and Bengal 16,190.
India has recorded over five lakh confirmed cases since the outbreak began in China in December last year. Of these, 1.98 lakh are active cases and 15,685 are deaths linked to the infectious virus.
The country has seen a worrying surge in fresh cases over the past two weeks - coinciding with "Unlock1", the government's phased restart of economic activity, with 18,552 cases detected in the preceding 24 hours, according to government data released this morning.
That number has increased steadily, day-by-day since June 22, when 14,821 new cases were logged.
As the new cases pile up, the Health Minister today pointed out that the national recovery rate (percentage of people to have recovered) had crossed 58 per cent, and that the mortality rate (percentage of deaths) was near three per cent (approximately 3.08 per cent), "which is very less".
Earlier this month Health Ministry Joint Secretary Lav Agarwal said the mortality rate was 2.82 per cent, "which is one of the lowest in the world".
Reviewing the preparedness to handle existing and future waves of infection, Dr Vardhan said there were now 1,026 diagnostic labs dedicated to testing for COVID-19, including 285 in the private sector.
Widespread testing to identify and isolate potential patients has been recommended, repeatedly, by the World Health Organisation (WHO) as one way to prevent the infectious virus from spreading.
The Health Minister said that 2.2 lakh samples had been tested in the past 24 hours, taking the total number tested to nearly 80 lakh.
The availability of hospital beds was also discussed at today's meeting, with major cities like Delhi and Mumbai at one point struggling to find enough beds.
The Delhi government has since set up temporary COVID-19 facilities at hotels and banquet halls across the city, much to the disappointment of some owners. It has also set up a facility at a 12.5 lakh square feet spiritual centre in south Delhi, where 10,000 beds are expected to be available by the end of July.
Mumbai also came perilously close to disaster this month; on June 11 the city administration said 99 per cent of all beds in ICUs were full.
Aware of the shortage of beds, the GoM was also told that steps had been taken and, as of June 27, COVID-19 related health infrastructure had been strengthened with dedicated hospitals having 1.76 lakh isolation and nearly 23,000 ICU beds.
Union Minister for Aviation Hardeep Singh Puri and Foreign Affairs Minister S Jaishankar were also part of today's meeting, which was held online.
With input from ANI