Coronavirus: Asia

India to ease curbs as cases decline to lowest in 2 months

But scientists warn of possible third wave later this year, likely to impact children more

Barricades at a checkpoint after a partial lockdown and travel restrictions were extended to curb the spread of the coronavirus in Siliguri, in India's West Bengal state, yesterday. Other states, such as Maharashtra, however, plan to start easing cur
Barricades at a checkpoint after a partial lockdown and travel restrictions were extended to curb the spread of the coronavirus in Siliguri, in India's West Bengal state, yesterday. Other states, such as Maharashtra, however, plan to start easing curbs this week. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

NEW DELHI • India reported 114,460 new coronavirus infections yesterday, the lowest in two months, while the death toll increased by 2,677, as parts of the country prepared to ease movement restrictions.

India has the world's second-largest number of coronavirus infections after the United States, with total cases at 28.8 million, according to Health Ministry data.

The country has reported 346,759 deaths.

A second wave of the coronavirus that has largely battered the rural interiors of the country has yet to abate, but New Delhi and other cities are working towards allowing more businesses to operate and movement rules to be relaxed from today.

The western state of Maharashtra, which is India's richest and has seen the most infections during the second wave, plans to start easing in stages this week a strict lockdown imposed in April.

Scientists have warned of a third wave that could hit India later in the year, likely impacting children more.

While the country has ramped up its vaccination drive in the past few weeks after a slow start, a majority of its 1.3 billion people are expected to remain unvaccinated by the time a potential third wave hits.

Meanwhile, Minister of State for Ports, Shipping and Waterways Mansukh Mandaviya said all efforts should be made to get seafarers vaccinated before joining their scheduled duties on board ships.

The functioning of the seafaring industry should not be hampered by the lack of Covid-19 vaccinations, said the minister, who made the comments on Saturday while reviewing the status of vaccinations to seafarers.

"India plays a very significant role in the global seafarer industry. There have been demands from many quarters to accord priority to seafarers in the vaccination drive in view of the nature of their work.

"The Ministry of Ports, Shipping and Waterways also coordinated actively with the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare to give priority to seafarers in Covid-19 vaccination," said an official statement.

The ministry said major ports have opened vaccination centres and six major ports - Mumbai Port Trust, Cochin Port Trust, Chennai Port Trust, Visakhapatnam Port Trust, Kolkata Port Trust and Tuticorin Port Trust - have started vaccinating seafarers at their port hospitals.

Apart from that, several seafaring associations have organised special camps for vaccination and a private hospital in Kerala has been roped in for vaccinating seafarers.

REUTERS, XINHUA

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 07, 2021, with the headline 'India to ease curbs as cases decline to lowest in 2 months'. Subscribe