The country also reported 129 new deaths, although the overall toll rose by 277 due to the addition of deaths from earlier dates. This was the fourth consecutive day when the death toll was 120 or more.
Meanwhile, a top government expert said that India is expected to hit the peak of third wave soon but the numbers are likely to stay high for several weeks before subsiding.
Here are the top developments …
Active cases highest in 208 days
With over 1.68 lakh new infections, the total tally of Covid-19 cases in India has gone past 3.58 crore, which includes 4,461 cases of the Omicron variant.
The active cases rose to 8.21 lakh, the highest in 208 days.
The active cases comprise 2.29 per cent of the total infections, while the national Covid-19 recovery rate decreased to 96.36 per cent, the ministry said.
Of the total 4,461 cases of the Omicron variant, 1,711 people have recovered or migrated so far.
Maharashtra recorded the maximum number of 1,247 cases followed by Rajasthan at 645, Delhi 546, Karnataka 479 and Kerala 350.
Molnupiravir not to be included in treatment protocol
The ICMR’s National Task Force for Covid-19 has decided against including antiviral drug Molnupiravir in the Clinical Management Protocol for Covid-19 as of now, official sources said on Tuesday.
The experts of the task force cited safety concerns and argued that Molnupiravir was not of much benefit in Covid treatment to arrive at the decision in a meeting held on Monday.
According to the health ministry, Molnupiravir is an antiviral drug that inhibits SARS-CoV-2 replication by viral mutagenesis. This anti-Covid pill got the Drug Regulator General of India’s approval on December 28 for restricted use in emergencies.
“Members of the National Task Force for Covid-19 were not in favour of including the drug in the national treatment guidelines citing that it does not have much benefit in the treatment of coronavirus infection and that there were safety concerns,” an official source told PTI.
PM Modi likely to hold meeting with CMs on Thursday
With the number of cases surging all over the country, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is likely to hold a meeting with chief ministers over the Covid-19 situation on Thursday.
Fresh curbs have been imposed in various parts of the country to check the spread of the highly transmissible virus.
Reviewing the Covid situation at a high-level meeting on Sunday, PM Modi had called for ensuring adequate health infrastructure at the district level and accelerating the vaccination drive for adolescents in mission mode.
‘Sharp spike in Covid cases in coming days’
India is likely to witness a sharp spike in the number of cases in the coming days but Covid-appropriate behaviour and vaccination could help contain the spread, Covid-19 task force chairman Dr NK Arora said.
“The peak will depend on the virus transmission, and how well the community adheres to Covid-appropriate behaviour. If the Covid norms are violated, a faster and taller peak is likely to occur. On the other hand, vaccination and administrative actions like night curfews, and weekend curfews tend to flatten the curve,” Dr Arora told ANI.
Citing the IIT Kanpur model, he said the transmission is taking place very actively and India should be reaching its peak in the near future.
“But it is likely to last for several weeks before it subsides,” he added.
Kejriwal rules out lockdown in Delhi, strict curbs to continue
Despite a steep surge in cases, Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal on Tuesday asked the citizens not to worry and ruled out imposing lockdown in the national capital.
“We are expecting that the city would report somewhere around 20,000-22,000 new Covid-19 cases in Delhi. The positivity rate has been around 24-25 per cent for the past two days. We are enforcing strict restrictions like night curfew in Delhi out of compulsion,” he said.
He further said that most cases of coronavirus during the third wave are showing mild symptoms unlike the second wave caused by the Delta variant.
Lata Mangeshkar hospitalised with Covid
Legendary singer Lata Mangeshkar has tested positive for Covid-19 with mild symptoms and is undergoing treatment at a city hospital in Mumbai, her niece said on Tuesday.
The 92-year-old veteran, also known as the Nightingale of India, was admitted to the ICU of Breach Candy hospital in south Mumbai two days ago.
“She is mild Covid positive. Considering her age, doctors advised us that she should be in the ICU because she requires constant care. And we cannot take a chance. As a family we want the best and want to ensure she has 24X7 care,” Mageshkar’s niece Rachna Shah told PTI.
(With inputs from agencies)