From a record high of over 400,000 new cases in early May, Indian authorities recorded around 366,000 new cases yesterday. The ministry reported 3,754 deaths. This brings the country’s total tally to approximately 22.7 million infections and 246,000 deaths. Authorities expect the actual figures to be much higher, as many new cases and deaths go unreported.
Indian health system is still overwhelmed and unable to cope with the lower number of cases. Hospitals and medical centers face an acute shortage of oxygen supply and beds to treat patients. The scene outside is just as grim, as morgues have no more space to hold dead bodies. Crematoriums still work around the clock, using open spaces to cremate the dead while new bodies keep coming in.
Authorities carried out nearly 1.47 million COVID-19 tests on Sunday. This is the lowest number of tests for May, according to the data from the Indian Council of Medical Research. In the start of May, the daily average testing stood at 1.7 million people. It is also unclear on the number of positive cases arising from the testing.
Although the country is not in lockdown yet, many states have imposed their own strict lockdowns in the last month. Other states have movement control orders in place, and have closed malls, pubs, cinemas and restaurants. The closure of public places is an attempt to bring down the high number of new infections.
Aid from the army
With the health system in chaos, the Indian government is urgently recruiting former army medics to boost medical care. The Defence Ministry issued a statement on Sunday, May 9th. It said about 400 medical officers will be offered contracts to serve for a maximum tenure of 11 months. Army doctors will be called up to carry out online consultations.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi faces increasing pressure to announce a nationwide lockdown. The country had a lockdown last year during the first wave of COVID-19 infections.
The PM criticized
PM Modi is receiving tremendous criticism for not calling for a lockdown. He has allowed mass gatherings to take place at a recent religious festival. The PM himself is currently holding huge election rallies over the last two months. All this is happening in spite of the drastic surge in cases and deaths.
Political science professor Vipin Narang describes the situation as “a failure of governance of epic and historic proportions”. Narang is attached to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the US. He posted his statement on Twitter.
Renowned American immunologist, Dr Anthony Fauci, said he advised Indian authorities on the need to shut down. Speaking on the ABC television show, “This Week”, Dr Fauci said India has got to shut down. He is aware some states have already shut down. However, Dr Fauci feels a complete shut down is needed to break the chain of transmission of the coronavirus.
Indian health authorities are taking note of Dr Fauci’s advice. The Indian Medical Association (IMA) is also calling for a lockdown. The IMA says such a lockdown should be well planned out. It should also be pre-announced.
India’s capital, New Delhi, is entering its fourth week of lockdown. Stricter measures are in place, including the shutdown of the vital Delhi Metro sub-urban rail network. Nearly 4.7 million ride the Delhi Metro every single day.
Yesterday, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal made a televised address. He said “This is not the time to be lenient. This phase is so tough, this wave is so dangerous, so many people are dying … the priority at this hour is to save lives”.
India being the world’s largest vaccine producer, has fully vaccinated over 34 million citizens to-date. With the Indian population standing at 1.35 billion, the 34 million vaccinated citizens make up only 2.5 percent of the total.
10th May 2021 23:00
This article brought to you by Legacy Times 传城时代