About 88 per cent of all COVID-19 deaths in the country are in the age group of 45 years and above, making them the most vulnerable section that needs to be protected, the Union Health Ministry said on Wednesday.
Addressing a press conference, Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan said the case fatality rate in this age group is 2.85 per cent.
"About 88 per cent of all COVID-19 deaths in the country are taking place in the age group of 45 years and above, making them the most vulnerable group that needs to be protected," he said, adding that this is the reason behind allowing vaccination for those above 45 years from April 1.
Speaking about the new coronavirus variants, National Centre for Disease Control Director S K Singh said 771 variants of concern (VOCs) have been detected in 18 states and union territories, which include 736 samples positive for viruses of the UK (B.1.1.7) lineage.
Till now, no linkage has been established to say that the surge being witnessed in some states is directly because of only mutations.
There are various reasons behind a surge.
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States having a larger pool of susceptible population are prone to witness rise in cases. Whenever the susceptible population will lower their guard and not follow COVID-19-appropriate behaviour, they will get the infection, be it the normal virus or the mutants, he said.
There are only three variants of concern, detected in the UK, South Africa and Brazil. In addition to these, some other variants of interest have also been found in some states, including Maharashtra and Delhi, which need to be further analysed and investigated, he added.
Bhushan said there are roughly three per cent active cases of COVID-19 and these active cases are concentrated mainly in 10 districts -- nine in Maharashtra and one in Karnataka.
"Two states are of grave concern which showed recent surge in cases. First is Maharashtra which reported over 28,000 cases. The top five districts are Pune, Nagpur, Mumbai, Thane and Nashik," he said.
Bhushan said Punjab is another state of grave concern because, considering its population, a very high number of cases are being reported by it.
Jalandhar, SAS Nagar, Ludhiana, Patiala and Hoshiarpur in Punjab are reporting high number of cases, he said.