Maharashtra, Punjab and Chhattisgarh targeted as India counters second Covid wave

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With rising coronavirus numbers, India is targeting Maharashtra, Punjab and Chhattisgarh for its campaign (Photo: IANS)

The daily count of fresh Covid-19 cases in India surged past the 1 lakh mark on Tuesday with Maharashtra accounting for more than half the number of infections and Punjab and Chhattisgarh being among the top three worst-hit states.

There are now more than 8 lakh active cases in the country. Efforts have been stepped up to control the deadly disease with 12.12 lakh tests for Covid-19 carried out during the day. More than 5.62 lakh people were vaccinated during the day the highest ever so far.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has already rushed top health experts to the states and has scheduled a meeting with the Chief Ministers of states to streamline the strategy for tackling the surging second wave of the pandemic.  

The next four weeks in India’s fight against Covid-19 will be “very, very critical,” said government health task force chief Vinod Kumar Paul, warning that the respiratory disease was now spreading much faster than in 2020.

“The pandemic has worsened in the country...There is a serious rise in cases,” Paul told journalists.  

India detected 115,736 new cases of the novel coronavirus on Tuesday, the highest daily increase so far. Nearly 55,000 cases were detected in Maharashtra, while Chhattisgarh scaled a new peak of 9,921 cases. Karnataka, Uttar Pradesh and Delhi reported more than 5,000 cases each.

At least 630 deaths were reported on Tuesday, with about a half of these were from Maharashtra. Punjab, Chhattisgarh, Uttar Pradesh and Karnataka were the other states which reported large number of deaths. Punjab has been affected by the UK strain of the virus but both the Indian vaccines are effective against it.

The Delhi government headed by Arvind Kejriwal imposed a night-time curfew in the national capital until April 30 to fight the surge in infections.  Similarly, Maharashtra, the state in which the country’s financial capital is located, has started shutting shopping malls, cinemas, bars, restaurants, and places of worship, as hospitals are being overrun by patients.

India, the world’s second most populous country with 1.35 billion people, has administered 84 million vaccine doses, the most after the United States and China, but it lags far behind in immunisations per capita.

Healthcare and similar frontline workers as well as people over 60 have been the main recipients of vaccinations so far. Inoculations of people above 45 began only on April 1.

Rising COVID-19 fatalities in the states of Punjab and Chhattisgarh are also cause for “extreme concern”, India’s top-ranked health official Rajesh Bhushan told reporters on Tuesday.

Global scenario

Meanwhile, deaths due to Covid-19 shot past the 3 million mark worldwide on Tuesday, according to a Reuters estimate, amid the resurgence of the deadly pandemic.  

Worldwide COVID-19 deaths are rising once again, especially in Brazil. Health officials blame more infectious variants that were first detected in the United Kingdom and South Africa, along with public fatigue with lockdowns and other restrictions.

While it had taken more than a year for the global coronavirus death toll to reach 2 million. The next 1 million deaths were added in about three months.

Brazil is leading the world in the daily average number of new deaths reported and accounts for one in every four deaths worldwide each day, according to a Reuters analysis.

India reported a record rise in COVID-19 infections on Monday, becoming the second nation after the United States to post more than I lakh new cases in a day. However, the number of deaths in India are still low with fatality rate working out to 1.3% of total infections as most people are recovering from the disease. However, the daily death count has shot up from 96 to 425 in the first week of April.

The European region, which includes 51 countries, has the highest total number of deaths at nearly 1.1 million.

Five European countries including the United Kingdom, Russia, France, Italy and Germany constitute about 60% of Europe’s total coronavirus-related deaths.

The United States has the highest number of deaths of any country at the world at 555,000 and accounts for about 19% of all deaths due to COVID-19 in the world. Cases have risen for the last three weeks but health officials believe the nation’s rapid vaccination campaign may prevent a rise in deaths. A third of the population has received at least one dose of a vaccine.