Covid infections go from bad to worse in India

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India has recorded over 100,000 Covid-19 cases in just 24 hours, its highest single-day rise since the start of the pandemic.

On Sunday India breached the critical mark of 100,000 Covid-19 infections in a single day for the first time since the pandemic began last year. The sub-continent thus became the second country after the United States to achieve the grim milestone.

India now has 12.5 million cases, the third highest total globally, and about 164,000 reported deaths. Out of India’s total cases, the western state of Maharashtra alone accounted for 57,700 cases, its highest ever single-day spike.

The state has put in place overnight curfews and weekend lockdowns to check the spread of infections.

“India has been registering a steady increase for 25 days in a row. The active cases in the country have now surged to 691,597 and that is worrying. We cannot afford to be complacent,” a top official of the Covid Task Force told RFI.

Some parts of the country have discovered double mutations of the virus, on which which the Indian Sars-CoV-2 Consortium on Genomics (Insacog) is carrying out genomic sequencing.

A total of 736 cases of the variant first discovered in the UK have been detected in India, and 34 of the one from South Africa and one case of the variant from Brazil, Sujeet Kumar Singh, the director of the National Center for Disease Control (NCDC), told media last week.

“Our hope seems now to depend on a much more speeded up vaccination drive and stricter adherence to safety protocols,” Jacob John, a virologist told RFI.

In the 80 days since India embarked on its vaccination drive, nearly 80 million doses have been administered.

“We still have a lot of distance to cover before we can take comfort. Now, we must target the hotspots where the infection is flaring,” added John.

After reaching a peak in mid-September, there was a steady decline until mid-February, but cases are again on the rise with over 101,000 cases reported on Sunday which is close to the peak of 97,894 cases on 16 September 2020.

Health authorities have attributed the relentless expansion of infections to a severe decline in the compliance of Covid-appropriate behaviour, pandemic fatigue, and lack of effective implementation of containment measures.

Director General of the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research Dr Shekhar Mande said a “third wave” of Covid-19 infections cannot be ruled out and it was for people to ensure it does not happen.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will hold a meeting with chief ministers of states on Thursday and has directed that central teams consisting of public health specialists be sent to Maharashtra, Punjab, and Chhattisgarh where the situation has worsened.

Several states and union territories, including Maharashtra, Punjab and Delhi, have announced the closure of schools and the suspension of classes.