India reports 44,230 new Covid-19 cases, highest in 3 weeks

The nationwide tally of infections reached 31.57 million. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

NEW DELHI (REUTERS) - India reported 44,230 new Covid-19 cases on Friday (July 30), the most in three weeks, the latest evidence of a worrying trend of rising cases that has forced one state to lock down amid fears of another wave of infections.

India was battered by the Delta variant of the virus in April and May but the rate of spread of infections later eased off. It has again been rising, with higher numbers in seven of the past eight days.

The nationwide tally of infections reached 31.57 million, according to the health ministry.

The country reported 555 deaths overnight, taking the overall tally to 423,217 fatalities, data showed.

Medical experts polled by Reuters in late June said a third wave of coronavirus infections was likely to hit India by October, though it would be better controlled than the devastating April-May outbreak.

Health experts have called for faster vaccinations to stave off another big surge.

The government estimates that 67.6 per cent of the 1.35 billion population already have antibodies against the coronavirus, with nearly 38 per cent of the adult population of about 944 million people having received at least one vaccine dose.

The disease's estimated reproduction rate, or R value, has also inched up in the past week, The R value hit 1 on July 24 - meaning on average, every 10 people infected will infect 10 other people - for the first time since May when daily infections were near a peak of 400,000.

The southern state of Kerala announced a new lockdown on Thursday while movement restrictions are in place in some northeastern states reporting a rise in infection rates.

Other places, including the capital New Delhi, have recently reopened most economic activities.

Repeated lockdowns have caused unemployment to soar and wiped out the savings of many households in India, where families impacted by the pandemic had to fund treatment for sick relatives themselves, often borrowing the money.

India has lifted tens of millions of people out of extreme poverty in the last decade, but the World Bank has said the pandemic has reversed that trend, at least temporarily.

A Reuters survey found that borrowing had risen by three times since the pandemic hit in March 2020 and about half of that was taken out the past six months.

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