New Delhi: India recorded 8,318 new Covid-19 cases in the past 24 hours, taking the country's total caseload since the pandemic began to 3,45,63,749, according to health ministry data updated on Saturday morning.
These new cases are 21 per cent lower than Friday's spike of 10,549 fresh cases.
Among all the states, Kerala reported the highest Covid-19 cases at 4,677, followed by Tamil Nadu with 746 cases, West Bengal with 710 cases, Karnataka with 402 cases and Mizoram with 359 cases.
These five states accounted for 82.89 per cent of the daily new cases reported on Saturday, with Kerala alone responsible for 56.23 per cent of the fresh infections.
In the last 24 hours, 465 people succumbed to Covid-19, increasing the total reported death count to 4,67,933. Maximum casualties were reported in Kerala (388), followed by Maharashtra with 34 daily deaths.
With 10,967 recoveries, the total recoveries have surged up to 3,39,88,797. The recovery rate is currently at 98.34 per cent, the highest since March 2020, whereas the active cases stand at 1,07,019 after falling by 3,114 cases since Friday.
In the same time frame, 73,58,017 people were administered Covid-19 vaccines that has pushed the overall vaccination count to 1,21,06,58,262.
With the news of a new Covid-19 variant -- Omicron, being detected in southern Africa, scientists and health experts in India have said that new waves of infection are anticipated and unless we act quickly and efficiently, the country will possibly see repeat waves.
The variant has also been declared as a variant of concern by the World Health Organisation (WHO).
In a communication to all states and Union Territories, Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan said India's National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has informed the government that "multiple cases of Covid-19 variant B.1.1529 have been reported in Botswana (3 cases), South Africa (6 cases) and Hong Kong (1 case)".
"This variant is reported to have a significantly high number of mutations, and thus, has serious public health implications for the country, in view of recently relaxed visa restrictions and opening up of international travel," Bhushan said.
"The contacts of these international travellers must also be closely tracked and tested as per MoHFW guidelines."