With the highest one-day national surge of 6,634new coronavirus disease (Covid-19) cases, India on Sunday overtook Iran to become the 10th biggest hot spot of the pathogen, which has rapidly swept the globe, claiming new epicentres across continents and leaving health care systems overwhelmed in its wake.
The number of Covid-19 cases in the country stood at 138,474 on Sunday, nearly doubling over the course of 13days, even as graded relaxations in the fourth phase of the national lockdown were likely to push up the contagion over the coming days.
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New Covid-19 cases dropped to zero for the first timeon Saturday in China, the country where the pandemic originated, but surged in India and ravaged South America. Experts say that in countries with weak health care systems and impoverished populations, fighting the virus has proven to be difficult.
Latin America has become the latest epicentre of the highly contagious disease. Brazil and Mexico reported record numbers of infections and deaths almost daily this week, fuelling criticism of their governments for limited lockdowns. But infections also rose and intensive-care units were swamped in Peru, Chile and Ecuador, all countries praised for imposing early and aggressive shutdowns.
India’s trajectory of Covid-19 cases appears to be tracking that of Brazil, according to analysis of latest data. India’s case count on Sunday was where Brazil’s infections stood about 15 days ago.
The latest 10,000 infections were recorded in twodays. India recorded its first 10,000 Covid-19 cases in nearly 43 days, with a wave of infections beginning in March after three isolated cases were first reported in Kerala in January. It took seven days for the cases to climb from 20,000 to 30,000.
The disease’s doubling rate, which is defined as the average period it takes for a twofold rise, decreased from 13.9days on May 18– the day the cases hit 100,000 – to 13.1on Sunday. The doubling rate – which is calculated over a period of last seven days – was four days at the beginning of April. Several experts say the peak of the outbreak in India is yet to come.
Across the world, many governments are easing restrictions as they face political challenges and poor economic indicators brought on by the pandemic. In just a few months, the pandemic has killed at least 345,000 people worldwide and infected more than 5.4million.
Turkey, which stands at the ninth spot in the global tally just above India, imposed its toughest lockdown measures yet starting Saturday for the Eid holiday. In Germany, which has drawn praise for its handling of the outbreak, seven people appeared to have been infected at a restaurant. It would be the first known such case since restaurants started reopening two weeks ago. France, which has the seventh highest number of infections, has allowed religious services to resume after a legal challenge to the government’s ban on gatherings in places of worship.
The US has been the hardest-hit country, with about 100,000 Covid-19 deaths so far among 1.6million confirmed cases, followed by Russia and Brazil.
Concerns, however, are rising in India, where new cases showed another record jump on Sunday, going past 6,000 for the third straight day as the two-month lockdown eased. States with relatively few cases have seen spikes in recent days as residents, including migrant workers travelling in special trains, have returned home.
On average, India has reported 6,102 cases over the last five days. The corresponding number for the previous five days was 4,753. The data, which is based on official figures from states, shows that about a thirdof the total cases have been reported over the past week.
On Sunday, the number of infections in Delhi rose to 13,418 after 508 new cases were reported.
Maharashtra, the worst-affected state in the country, surpassed 50,000 cases. It reported 3,041new infections during the day and its overall tally was 50,231. Of these, 30,542cases – more than a fourth of the national tally – have been reported in Mumbai alone.
The surge of cases also continued in Tamil Nadu as the state recorded 765cases. The state has so far reported 16,277 cases.
As India relaxes curbs that were put in place on March 25, experts say the coming weeks will be crucial.
Dr SK Sarin, director of the Institute of Liver and Biliary Sciences and who also heads the five-member committee formed to assist the Delhi chief minister to tackle the pandemic, told HT recently that the lockdown has only delayed the peak, “which is likely to come maybe in July or mid-August”.
(With inputs from agencies)