Covid-19: India overtakes Brazil as world’s second worst-hit country People have gathered in the northern city of Haridwar to attend ‘Kumbh Mela’, amid the spread of the coronavirus pandemic. (REUTERS/Anushree Fadnavis)
INDIA reported a record daily tally of 168,912 COVID-19 infections on Monday (12), which carried it past Brazil, for an overall tally of 13.53 million, and placing it second after the United States, with 31.2 million.
With the country now accounting for one in every six daily infections worldwide, there are now concerns over a further spike, as large number of people in thousands gathered for a ritual batch in the Ganges river.
According to experts, a full opening of India’s economy after last year’s strict lockdown, followed by mass religious festivals and political rallies in election-bound states have more worsened the second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic.
In the northern city of Haridwar (241.8km from New Delhi), nearly a million devotees thronged the banks of the Ganges, a river many Hindus consider holy, to join in the months-long ‘Kumbh Mela’, risking a surge in infections.
“The crowd here is surging…the police are continuously appealing to people to maintain social distancing,” police official Sanjay Gunjyal told Reuters at the site.
Few were wearing masks as authorities say Covid-19 tests are mandatory for those entering the area.
With the polls happening in four states, prime minister Narendra Modi is set to travel to the eastern state of West Bengal to address rallies that would draw thousands.
A death toll of 904 overnight was the highest since October 18, taking the total figure to 170,179.
The officials in the worst-hit state of Maharashtra, said they were considering a broader lockdown after large closures over the weekend.
The state, India’s industrial powerhouse, tallied 63,294 new infections on Sunday (11), led by a surge in its big cities of Mumbai, Nagpur and Pune.
“It is necessary to break the cycle (of infections),” said a senior state official who attended a meeting with state leaders on Sunday (11) and sought anonymity.
“We are working on identifying industries and services that need to be exempted.”
The state is among many that have demanded more doses of vaccines for immunisation campaigns. India has inoculated more than 100 million doses since mid-January, the highest figure after the United States and China, but much lower as a share of its population than many countries.
Moreover, with cases having surged, India has banned the export of anti-viral drug remdesivir and its active ingredients.