The Scotsman

In­dia climbs to sec­ond be­hind only US as Covid-19 cases surge

● Coun­try has recorded largest daily in­creases for al­most a month

- By SHEIKH SAALIQ and ANIRUDDHA GHOSAL India News · Coronavirus (COVID-19) · Infectious Diseases · Health Conditions · India · United States of America · Brazil · Johns Hopkins University · Hopkins · New Delhi · Delhi · Narendra Modi · Tamil Nadu · Tamil Nadu · Maharashtra · Uttar Pradesh · Antigua and Barbuda · Karnataka

In­dia’s in­creas­ing coron­avirus case load has made the Asian gi­ant the world’s sec­ond-worst-hit coun­try be­hind the United States as its ef­forts to head off eco­nomic dis­as­ter from the pan­demic gain ur­gency.

The 90,802 cases added in the past 24 hours pushed In­dia’s to­tal past Brazil with more than 4.2 mil­lion cases. In­dia is now be­hind only the United States, where more than 6.2 mil­lion peo­ple have been in­fected, ac­cord­ing to Johns Hop­kins Univer­sity.

In­dia’s Health Min­istry yes­ter­day also re­ported 1,016 new deaths for a to­tal of 71,642 – the third-high­est na­tional toll.

The world’ s sec­ond-most pop­u­lous coun­try with 1.4 bil­lion peo­ple, In­dia has been record­ing the world’s largest daily in­creases in coron­avirus cases for al­most a month. De­spite more than two mil­lion new cases in the past month and the virus spread­ing through the coun­try’s smaller towns and vil­lages, the In­dian gov­ern­ment has con­tin­ued re­lax­ing restric­tions to try and re­sus­ci­tate the econ­omy.

Yes­ter­day the Delhi Metro, which serves In­dia’s sprawl­ing cap­i­tal New Delhi and ad­join­ing ar­eas, re­sumed op­er­a­tions after re­main­ing shut­tered for more than five months. The com­muters were scarce and sta­tions de­serted. Only asymp­to­matic peo­ple were al­lowed to board the trains, with masks, so­cial dis­tanc­ing and tem­per­a­ture checks manda­tory.

Se­cu­rity per­son­nel used me­tal de­tec­tors at­tached to rods to en­sure so­cial dis­tanc­ing dur­ing frisk­ing at the sta­tions. Com­muters were al­lowed to en­ter only after sani­tis­ing their hands.

New Delhi’ s streets have al­ready re­turned to their nor­mal bust le and peo­ple are again flock­ing to mar­kets. The city’s bars will re­open to­mor­row. There open­ings come

after In­dia’s econ­omy shrank faster than any other ma­jor na­tion – nearly 24 per cent in the past quar­ter.

In­dia’s eco­nomic pain dates to the de­mon­eti­sa­tion of the na­tion’s cur­rency in 2016 and a hasty roll-out of a goods and ser­vices tax the next year. But the strict virus lock­down that star ted on 24 March fur­ther ex­ac­er­bated the eco­nomic woes.

When Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi or­dered ev­ery­one in the coun­try to stay in­doors, the who lee co no

my shut down within four hours. Mil­lions lost their jobs in­stantly and tens of thou­sands of mi­grant work­ers, out of money and fear­ing star­va­tion, poured out of cities and headed back to vil­lages. The un­prece­dented mi­gra­tion not only hollowed out In­dia’s econ­omy, but also spread the virus to the far reaches of the coun­try.

Now as cases surge, most of the coun­try, ex­cept in high­risk ar­eas, has al­ready opened up, with au­thor­i­ties say­ing they have lit­tle choice.

“While lives are im­por­tant, liveli­hoods are equally im­por­tant,” Ra­jesh Bhushan, the top of­fi­cial of In­dia’s fed­eral health min­istry, said at a news brief­ing last week.

Al­most 60 per cent of In­dia’s virus cases are now com­ing from the states of Andh ra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Kar­nataka, Ma­ha­rash­tra and Ut­tar Pradesh – the na­tion’s most pop­u­lous state. But in­fec­tions are also re­turn­ing to ar­eas that had man­aged to slow the spread of the virus, off­set­ting mar­ginal gains.

Ini­tially hit hard by the virus, New Delhi had seemed to turn the tide through its ag gres - sive screen­ing for pa­tients. But after reopen­ing steadily, the state has re­ported a re­cent surge in cases and fa­tal­i­ties. The reopen­ing of the metro is ex­pected to fur­ther worsen the sit­u­a­tion, ex­perts fear.

The re­cent surge in cases also high­lights the risks of In­dia’s strat­egy on re­ly­ing too heav­ily on rapid tests that screen for anti­gens or vi­ral pro­teins. Th­ese tests are cheap, yield re­sults in min­utes and have al­lowed In­dia to test over a mil­lion peo­ple a day.

 ??  ?? 0 Mi­grant labour­ers at Kolkata In­ter­na­tional Air­port after flights were can­celled dur­ing a day long lock­down as a pre­ven­tive mea­sure against coron­avirus
0 Mi­grant labour­ers at Kolkata In­ter­na­tional Air­port after flights were can­celled dur­ing a day long lock­down as a pre­ven­tive mea­sure against coron­avirus
 ??  ?? 0 An In­dian girl cries as a med­i­cal worker col­lects a swab sam­ple
0 An In­dian girl cries as a med­i­cal worker col­lects a swab sam­ple

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