• Saturday, February 24, 2024

INDIA

India overtakes Brazil as second worst-hit Covid-19 country

(Photo by LAKRUWAN WANNIARACHCHI/AFP via Getty Images)

By: RadhakrishnaNS

INDIA on Monday overtook Brazil as the country with the second-highest number of coronavirus infections, as it reported a new daily record of more than 168,000 cases.

The vast nation of 1.3 billion people has been reporting a rapid increase in new infections in recent weeks, with the surge taking the total toll to 13.5 million cases, above Brazil’s 13.48 million.

Experts have warned that huge, mostly maskless and tightly packed crowds at political rallies in poll-bound states, mass religious festivals and at other public places were fuelling the new wave of infections.

‘The whole country has been complacent -we allowed social, religious and political congregations,’ Rajib Dasgupta, a health professor at Jawaharlal Nehru University, told.

‘No-one queued up (for social distancing) anymore.’

The country has recorded more than 873,000 cases in the last seven days an increase of 70 percent compared to the previous week, according to data.

In comparison, Brazil recorded just over 497,000 cases with an increasing trend of 10 percent from the previous week.

The US the worst-hit country reported just under 490,000 cases with a rising trend of nine percent.

The spike in India, after daily rises in cases fell below 9,000 in early February, has seen many badly affected states and territories impose restrictions on movement and activities.

India’s wealthiest state Maharashtra, which has been the main driver of the infection spike, last week imposed a weekend lockdown and night curfew.

But Maharashtra has warned that a complete lockdown- a drastic measure that national and state governments have tried to avoid to protect the already devastated economy-could be imposed within the next few days as cases continue to rise.

‘The solution is for everyone to stay home for two months and end this (pandemic) once and for all. But the public doesn’t listen,’ said Rohit, 28, a waiter at a popular Mumbai restaurant who moved to the financial hub for work from the northern state of Punjab.

‘Nobody follows the rules in the restaurant… If we tell customers to wear masks, they are rude and disrespectful to us.’

The chief minister of India’s capital New Delhi, where a night curfew is in place, said Sunday that 65 percent of new Covid-19 patients were less than 45 years old.

His government was not in favor of a lockdown, but said it would consider imposing one if hospital beds start running out.

People not adhering to Covid-appropriate behavior and the circulation of highly infectious strains of SARS-COV-2 could be the primary reasons behind the surge in coronavirus infections in India, AIIMS Director Dr Randeep Guleria said on Monday.

He also warned that if the situation is not reversed, then the galloping infection rate will eventually cause a huge strain on the country’s healthcare system. He sought stricter enforcement of Covid-appropriate behavior on the ground level by the administration and authorities.

People not adhering to Covid-19 appropriate behavior and the circulation of highly infectious strains of SARS-COV-2 could be the primary reasons behind the surge in coronavirus infections in India, AIIMS Director Dr Randeep Guleria said on Monday.

He also warned that if the situation is not reversed, then the galloping infection rate will eventually cause a huge strain on the country’s healthcare system. He sought stricter enforcement of Covid-appropriate behavior on the ground level by the administration and authorities.

‘Around February, when cases started to decrease, people became lax towards following Covid-19 appropriate behavior as they thought the virus had become ineffective.

‘People are taking the disease lightly now. If you go out, you see that marketplaces, restaurants and shopping malls are crowded and full of people and these all are super-spreader events,’ Guleria said.

Earlier, if one sick person was able to infect around 30 per cent of their contacts, this time those getting the disease are infecting a larger number of people, he said.

‘So, the rate of spread of the infection is fast possibly due to the highly infectious and transmissible strains circulating,’ he added.

Various strains of SARS-CoV-2, including the UK, South Africa and Brazil variants, are circulating in India and have been termed as highly transmissible by experts.

Guleria said the entire humanity is going through a difficult time and ‘unless it is important, people should not venture out. Also, it has to be ensured that there is no gathering and stricter enforcement of Covid-appropriate behavior has to be ensured’.

‘We may lose the gains we have made so far if we do not pay heed now,’ and the situation may completely get out of control, he said.

‘If the situation is not reversed, then the galloping infection rate will eventually cause a huge strain on the healthcare system also,’ he stressed. The AIIMS chief also urged people to get vaccinated against Covid-19.

Though the vaccine will not protect a person from contracting the infection, it will prevent its progression to a severe form and thereby reduce mortality, Guleria said. But wearing a mask and following other protocols is equally important, he added.

Ten states-Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi, Chhattisgarh, Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat and Rajasthan have shown a steep rise in daily cases, accounting for 83.02 percent of the infections reported in a day.

Meanwhile, hundreds of thousands of Hindu devotees flocked on Monday to take a holy bath in India’s Ganges river, even as the nation racked up the world’s highest tally of new daily coronavirus infections.

In the northern city of Haridwar, nearly a million devotees thronged the banks of the Ganges, a river many Hindus consider holy, to participate in the months-long ‘Kumbh Mela’ or pitcher festival.

Related Stories