India reported 94,392 infections and 1,108 deaths due to Covid-19 on Saturday, according to data from states that show the country continues to report some of the grimmest numbers in the world, which has prompted officials and experts of late to make repeated appeals to people to not become complacent.
The country is now recording the highest numbers of new cases. The average number of daily infections is well over the 90,000-mark in the last seven days. This number was around 24,000 two months ago and 58,000 a month ago. India’s new case counts are more than double of the United States’s and Brazil’s – the other two countries with the largest outbreaks.
The latest appeals for caution come from Prime Minister Narendra Modi. “Jab tak dawai nahi, tab tak dhilai nahi. Do gaj ki doori, mask hai jaroori (No complacency till a medicine is found. Face mask and maintainting distance of two yards is necessary),” PM Modi said at an event to mark the handover of 175,000 houses built in rural pockets of Madhya Pradesh under the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (PMAY).
According to a statement from the government, the PM’s principal secretary PK Mishra chaired a high-level meeting to “comprehensively review the Covid-19 preparedness and response”, where the case management, vaccine development and distribution, and long-term strategies were discussed.
“Based on the many projections scenarios, the principal secretary directed all concerned to build on the knowledge and analysis that has been developed over the last few months to work out a detailed action plan for the coming months. The need for continuously upgrading and augmenting human resources, getting the right mix of testing for effective case management, contact tracing and isolation, uninterrupted oxygen supply and other medical equipments, were all discussed at length,” said the statement.
On Thursday, India recorded its highest number of single day cases yet, 99,181, according to HT’s dashboard of Covid-19 statistics. In all, the country now has had 4,751,763 cases and 78,614 due to the viral disease. Across the country, there are 976,555 active cases.
Delhi — which has seen a spike in daily new cases in recent weeks, largely owing to the increase in testing — on Saturday added 4,321 infections that took the city’s total tally to 214,069, and 28 more fatalities that pushed cumulative fatalities to 4,715. It also conducted 60,076 tests in 24 hours, the city’s highest so far, according to the official state health bulletin.
The central government on Saturday said around 60% of the total cases have been from five states – Maharashtra (21.8%), Andhra Pradesh (11.8%), Tamil Nadu (10.6%), Karnataka (9.5%), and Uttar Pradesh (6.4%), according to the Union health ministry data.
Experts reiterated that taking precautions such as wearing a mask in public and maintaining social distance is the only way to slow down the spread of the infection.
The way forward for India would be to, “prevent crowded super-spreader events, reduce urban to rural transmission, micro-containment in urban areas, syndromic surveillance of households through primary health care teams with early identification for testing, isolation and local contact tracing, promote greater adherence to masks and physical distance through local community and NGO networks,” said Dr Srinath Reddy, president of the Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI).
Dr Shobha Broor, former head of microbiology department at All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), said, “Masks and social distancing are the only vaccines available to us at the moment and the only thing that we can do to prevent further spread of the infection. I think people are fatigued of following these measures and have relaxed slowly… People need to understand the importance of wearing mask and how to wear it properly.”
There has been an increase in the number of cases along with India scaling up testing to over 1 million a day.