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India records a dip in COVID cases as nationwide lockdown calls grow

By Saima Siddiqui 
Updated Date
India records a dip in COVID cases as nationwide lockdown calls grow

New Delhi: Pressure to impose nationwide lockdown mounts on the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, as the country witnesses devastating numbers of coronavirus cases and deaths in its deadly second Corona wave.

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The health ministry on Monday reported 366,161 new infections and 3,754 deaths, off a little from recent peaks, taking country’s total tally of infections to 22.66 million, with 246,116 fatalities.

As per the health ministry data, the 1.47 million samples tested on Sunday for COVID-19 were this month’s lowest yet, data from the state-run Indian Council of Medical Research showed. The figure compared with a daily average of 1.7 million for the first eight days of May. India on Saturday reported its highest ever single-day COVID-19 death toll of 4,187.

Meanwhile, the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation estimated that the country will see one million COVID-19 deaths by August.

In order to control the worsening situation, many states imposed strict lockdowns over the past month while others adopted partial lockdown, placing curbs on movement and shut cinemas, restaurants, pubs and shopping malls.

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However, pressure is mounting on ruling BJP-government to announce a nationwide lockdown as he did during the first wave of infections last year.

PM Modi is facing criticism for allowing huge gatherings at a religious festival and holding large election rallies during the past two months even as the country grapples with increase in Covid cases.

“A failure of governance of epic and historic proportions,” Vipin Narang, a political science professor at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in the United States, said on Twitter.

Meanwhile, India’s defency ministry said it will recruit hundreds of former army medics to support its overwhelmed healthcare system. Some 400 medical officers are expected to serve on contract for a maximum of 11 months, the ministry said in a news release on Sunday, adding that other military doctors had also been contacted for online consultations.

The Indian Medical Association (IMA) has called for a “complete, well-planned, pre-announced” lockdown instead of sporadic night curfews and restrictions imposed by states for a few days at a time.

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“IMA is astonished to see the extreme lethargy and inappropriate actions from the ministry of health in combating the agonizing crisis born out of the devastating second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic,” it said in a statement on Saturday.

Additionally, Dr Anthony Fauci, a top White House coronavirus adviser, on Sunday said he has advised the Indian authorities they need to shut down.

“You’ve got to shut down. I believe several of the Indian states have already done that, but you need to break the chain of transmission. And one of the ways to do that is to shut down,” Fauci said on ABC’s This Week television programme.

Notably, the national capital, Delhi, entered a fourth week of lockdown, with tougher curbs such as the shutdown of the Metro rail network, while residents scrambled for scarce hospital beds and oxygen supplies.

“This is not the time to be lenient,” Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said on Sunday.

“This phase is so tough, this wave is so dangerous, so many people are dying…the priority at this hour is to save lives,” he said in a televised address.

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Furthermore, the northern state of Uttarakhand, late on Sunday, said it would impose curfew from Tuesday until May 18, just days after mass religious gatherings held in the state became virus super spreading events.

Shops selling fruits, vegetables and dairy items will stay open for some hours in the morning, while malls, gyms, theatres, bars and liquor shops are among the enterprises that will be shut, the government said.

According to data from the government’s Co-WIN portal, the world’s largest vaccine-producing nation has fully vaccinated just more than 34.3 million, or only 2.5 percent, of its 1.35 billion population as of Sunday.

To support the nation in distress, help has been pouring in from around the world in the form of oxygen cylinders and concentrators, ventilators and other medical equipment and medicines.

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