New Delhi entered a lockdown over the weekend on Saturday as India faces a fierce new wave of coronavirus, with daily cases reaching another record high increase of 234,692 across the country and families clamoring for drugs and medication. hospital beds.
The Health Ministry said the latest figure was the eighth record in the past nine days.
The total number of cases has exceeded 14.5 million, just behind the United States which has reported more than 32 million infections.
Deaths in India from COVID-19 increased by 1,341 to a total of 175,649, according to the data.
Hopes that South Asian countries could have beaten the pandemic have been dashed, with India seeing more than two million new cases this month alone and Bangladesh and Pakistan imposing lockdowns.
India’s per capita rates remain low by international comparison, raising hopes that the number of infections – possibly fueled by a virulent new “double mutant” – could explode again.
After a nationwide lockdown a year ago resulted in hundreds of deaths and one of the worst slumps in any major economy, the Indian government is desperate to avoid a second shutdown.
However, many states are cracking down, including the Maharashtra hotspot, Gujarat, an industrial hub, and Karnataka, Bangalore’s computer hub, though the restrictions are less onerous than last year.
The state of Uttar Pradesh, home to some 240 million people, announced on Friday that all villages and towns would be locked up for a day on Sunday.
In the capital, New Delhi, which overtook Mumbai as India’s worst-hit city, restaurants, malls, gyms and spas were closed for the weekend.
“Genome sequencing data presented evidence of the ‘double mutant’ in 61% of samples from Maharashtra. But whether this new variant is the source of India’s continued surge, it can only be said once more data becomes available.https://t.co/ptawnuMq9J – @runaanu
– Amit Paranjape (@aparanjape) April 16, 2021
Weddings are, however, permitted with guests limited to 50, while a maximum of 20 people can attend the funeral. Cinemas can open with a third capacity.
“Do not panic. All essential services will be available during the weekend, ”said Chief Minister of the city of 25 million people, Arvind Kejriwal.
Likewise, the northern state of Uttarakhand has limited gatherings to 200 people – but exempted the ongoing extensive Hindu festival Kumbh Mela.
The Haridwar rally has drawn as many as 25 million people since January, including some 4.6 million this week alone, with most people ignoring the COVID-19 guidelines.
A psychic died from the virus on Thursday and 80 other holy men have tested positive, and experts fear millions of worshipers are now returning the virus to their home towns and villages.
Election rallies are also taking place in the eastern state of West Bengal, with Home Secretary Amit Shah attending two tours and a public meeting on Friday alone.
In Calcutta, the state capital, railway worker Samaresh Tapna fell ill after attending one of these rallies and was hospitalized.
“I felt angry with myself … I cursed my fate,” the 42-year-old told AFP.
Lack of oxygen
Hospitals are running out of oxygen and coronavirus drugs, such as remdesivir, leading desperate people to pay exorbitant black market prices.
Social media is teeming with horror stories of desperate calls to help a loved one in need of hospital treatment for COVID-19 or other complaints.
“I lost a cousin on Saturday. He was not admitted after a stroke. I tried 4 hospitals, ”read a message on a Delhi WhatsApp group this week.
In a worrying new trend, doctors told AFP they had seen an increase in the number of COVID-19 patients under the age of 45, including children.
“Last year there were hardly any children with symptoms,” said Khusrav Bajan, a consultant at PD Hinduja National Hospital in Mumbai.
India’s campaign to immunize its 1.3 billion people has also come up against obstacles, with just 117 million vaccines administered to date and stocks running out, according to some local authorities.
“[It is] understandable that many people are fed up with restrictions and want to get back to normal life. We must redouble our efforts to contain this disease because too many lives are at stake, ”said Udaya Regmi of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC).
“It’s a call to wake up the world. Vaccines must be available to everyone, everywhere, rich and poor to overcome this terrible pandemic, ”Regmi said in a statement, calling the outbreak across South Asia“ really frightening ”.