Almost 68 per cent of the total COVID-19 cases reported in India are from Kerala, said Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan on Thursday.
Addressing a press conference, Mr Bhushan said, "Almost 68 per cent of the total cases reported nationally are from Kerala. Kerala has over 1.99 lakh active cases, while five other states -- Mizoram, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra -- have more than 10,000 active cases. The weekly positivity rate for the last 11 weeks is below 3 per cent."
"Sixty four districts are still reporting above 5 per cent COVID positivity. They are districts of concern where COVID-appropriate behaviour, vaccination, and surveillance in these areas must be strictly monitored," he added.
The Union Health Secretary said the Centre is working towards ramping up the availability of medical oxygen in the country to more than 4,500 MT.
"Right now 3,631 PSA (Pressure Swing Adsorption) plants have been started in the country. When these plants get commissioned, they will be able to make available more than 4,500 MT of medical oxygen. As many as 1,595 plants are commissioned as of now, providing 2,088 MT of medical oxygen to patients in the hospitals," Mr Bhushan explained.
"Further, 1,491 of these plants are being commissioned through central resources. They will make available more than 2,220 MT of medical oxygen. 2,140 plants are being made through states and other resources. They will make available 2,289 MT of medical oxygen," he added.
Dr Balram Bhargava, Director General, Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), raised concerns about the upcoming festive season that might create a conducive environment for virus spread.
"We have been seeing some decreasing infections in Kerala. Other states are also on the path of averting future surge. However, festivals are approaching and a sudden increase in population density creates a conducive environment for virus spread," he said.
"The call of the hour is vaccine acceptance, maintenance of COVID-appropriate behaviour, responsible travel and if necessary, responsible festivities," he emphasised.
Asked about COVID vaccine booster dose, ICMR DG said, "Booster doses are not the central theme at the moment in the scientific and public healthcare discussion. Getting a full vaccination of two doses remains a major priority. Several agencies have recommended that antibody levels should not be measured."
Meanwhile, VK Paul, Member-Health, NITI Aayog said Mizoram is a state of concern.
"In the coming two-three months, we have to maintain caution against any upsurge of COVID cases. We request everyone to remain careful in the coming quarter. We are happy to see the number of cases stabilising, even in Kerala," Mr Paul said.
On Dengue outbreak, Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan said there are reports of the outbreak of the parasitic disease from states like Delhi, Haryana, West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat and Assam.
"When water is accumulated, it leads to the birth of Aedes mosquitoes responsible for dengue outbreaks. Source reduction is done in all states every year. We have received reports of dengue outbreaks in Delhi, Haryana, West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat and Assam," stated Mr Bhushan.
India reported 30,570 new COVID-19 cases in the last 24 hours, taking the tally of cases in the country to 3,33,47,325, informed the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare on Thursday. Of the new infections, Kerala recorded 17,681 COVID cases.
The country has been reporting less than 50,000 cases of COVID infection for 81 consecutive days now, the ministry said.
India's active caseload now stands at 3,42,923. The active cases account for 1.03 per cent of the total cases.