The health ministry is telling states to get hold of lax prevention measures “ now ” to prevent health systems from being overwhelmed by an increase in cases.
The situation with the COVID-19 pandemic in India is going “from bad to worse,” a senior government official said.
“We are facing an increasingly serious and intense situation, more certainly in certain districts. But the whole country is potentially at risk, ”Vinod K Paul, chairman of the government expert group on vaccine administration, said at the health ministry’s weekly briefing on Tuesday.
India reported 53,480 new coronavirus cases on Wednesday, Health Ministry data showed – the second day cases increased less than the day before.
But the death toll was at its highest since mid-December, according to a Reuters news agency tally, with 354 people dying from the coronavirus in the past 24 hours, the ministry said, bringing the total number of death at 162468.
India reported a spike in cases this month, with its wealthiest state of Maharashtra, home to the financial capital of Mumbai, accounting for the bulk of its caseload.
More than 68,000 new cases of the coronavirus were reported on Monday, the highest in a single day in five months. As of Tuesday, at least 56,000 new cases were reported across India, with Maharashtra accounting for more than 31,000.
Paul said mutated strains were unlikely to be behind the surge after a significant drop in January.
India’s health secretary on Tuesday bluntly told federal states to get under control of lax coronavirus prevention measures “now” to prevent health systems from being overwhelmed by a surge in infections.
“The current increase in cases… has the potential to overwhelm health systems unless verified now,” Rajesh Bhushan said in a letter to states.
“Many districts across the country are seeing clusters of cases emerging due to specific events and / or places where overcrowding occurs, or where large numbers of people are in close contact coupled with a lack of appropriate COVID behavior . “
With more than 12 million cases of coronavirus reported since the outbreak began last year, India is the third worst affected country in the world, after the United States and Brazil.
Bhushan called on states to impose masks and physical distancing, and to increase testing, tracing and quarantine, or face “high costs.”
Despite the warnings, senior politicians, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi himself, addressed rallies and meetings of tens of thousands of people, seated or standing side by side, with only a handful of masks.
Multi-phase elections in four major states began last week and will continue into the next month.
Maharashtra is consider imposing stricter borders from Thursday, but opposition parties and industrialists opposed a lockdown, saying it hurt the poor the most.
India has ramped up its nationwide vaccination campaign, streamlining the process, opening more vaccination centers and limiting exports after criticizing that more of its production was going abroad than ‘to India’s own people.