India’s Covid-19 daily cases hold close to record, another state imposes lockdown

A health worker cleans the floor of a temporary Covid-19 ward in New Delhi on May 1, 2021. PHOTO: AFP

NEW DELHI (XINHUA, REUTERS) - India's Covid-19 tally reached 19,557,457 on Sunday (May 2), with a single day spike of 392,488 cases, said the federal health ministry.

As many as 3,689 deaths were recorded since Saturday morning, taking the total death toll to 215,542, with one more state going into lockdown as the nation's creaky healthcare system is unable to cope with a massive caseload.

There are a total of 3,349,644 active cases in the country, with an increase of 80,934 through Saturday, while 15,992,271 people have been cured and discharged from hospitals so far across the country.

Indian hospitals, morgues and crematoriums have been overwhelmed as the country has reported more than 300,000 daily cases for more than 10 days straight. Many families have been left on their own to scramble for medicines and oxygen.

Nearly 10 Indian states and union territories have imposed some form of restrictions, even as the federal government remains reluctant to impose a national lockdown.

The eastern state of Odisha became the latest to announce a two-week lockdown, joining Delhi, Maharashtra, Karnataka and West Bengal. Other states, including Uttar Pradesh, Telengana, Assam, Andhra Pradesh and Rajasthan, have either imposed night curfews or weekend lockdowns.

The Indian Express newspaper reported on Sunday that the country's Covid-19 taskforce has advised the federal government to impose a national lockdown.

Last month, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said all efforts should be made be avoid a lockdown. The federal government fears another lockdown will have a devastating impact on the economy.

The lockdown imposed last year after the first Covid-19 outbreak led to job losses as economic output fell a record 24 per cent in April-June 2020 compared with the same period a year earlier.

Modi's government has been criticised for letting millions of largely unmasked people attend religious festivals and crowded political rallies in five states through March and April. Daily cases in these states have spiked since then.

Reuters reported on Saturday that the federal government has been accused of failing to respond to a warning in early March from its own scientific advisers that a new and more contagious variant was taking hold in the country.

Delhi, one of the most Covid-19-affected places in the country, witnessed over 25,219 new cases and 412 deaths through Saturday. As many as 16,559 people have died in the national capital due to Covid-19, confirmed Delhi's health department.

Meanwhile, a total 290,142,339 Covid-19 tests have been conducted in India till Saturday, out of which 1,804,954 tests were conducted on Saturday alone, according to the latest data issued by the Indian Council of Medical Research on Sunday.

The third phase of vaccination for people aged above 18 in India began on Saturday. So far over 156 million vaccination doses have been administered in India since the country kicked off its nationwide inoculation drive in January.

Two types of vaccines are being administered to the people in India, including the Covishield vaccine made by the Serum Institute of India and the Covaxin vaccine made by Bharat Biotech International Limited.

India received the first batch of the Russian-made Sputnik-V vaccine on Saturday.

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.