India’s new Covid-19 infections hit record, deaths at over five-month high

India’s new Covid-19 infections hit record, deaths at over five-month high
India’s new Covid-19 infections hit record, deaths at over five-month high

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Nevin Al Sukari - Sana'a - People walk at a crowded market amidst the spread of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19), in the old quarters of Delhi, India, April 6, 2021. — Reuters pic

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NEW DELHI, April 9 — India reported another record number of new Covid-19 infections today with daily deaths also hitting their highest in more than five months as the country battles a second wave of infections and states complain of a persistent vaccine shortage.

The world’s second most-populous country reported 131,968 new infections and 780 deaths today — the biggest daily increase since mid-October.

That took India’s overall caseload to 13.06 million — the world’s third-highest after the United States and Brazil — and total deaths from Covid-19 to 167,642. India’s total number of infections inched closer to Brazil’s 13.28 million.

With several states having expanded curbs to control the rapid spread of the virus, migrant workers have started packing into trains towards their villages from major cities such as Mumbai, potentially risking a wider outbreak in smaller towns.

The government blames the resurgence mainly on crowding and a reluctance to wear masks as businesses gradually reopened since the middle of last year.

“We all know that it’s because of the casual approach that has been adopted unfortunately by the society and some sort of laxity everywhere in following the discipline of the Covid-appropriate behaviour,” Health Minister Harsh Vardhan told a news conference.

He said on Thursday there was no shortage of shots for the groups eligible for vaccination, with more than 43 million doses in stock or in the pipeline. India has been inoculating about four million people a day.

The surge in cases has been far sharper than last year, triggering widespread calls for the vaccination of younger people. But Prime Minister Narendra Modi rejected the idea yesterday, citing the need to prioritise the more vulnerable, elderly population.

Inoculations are currently limited to those aged over 45 and health and frontline workers.

Much of the country has fallen behind safety protocols, the most glaring example being election rallies, where politicians including Modi and Interior Minister Amit Shah have greeted hundreds of thousands of supporters, most of whom were not wearing masks.

The government has refused to impose another national lockdown, but Modi said night curfews were an effective way to keep people alert. — Reuters

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