A man riding his bike on a street in Old New Delhi on April 19, 2021 as India’s capital is due to impose a week-long lockdown starting tonight, officials said as the megacity struggles to contain a huge surge in Covid-19 Cases with hospitals running out of beds and low oxygen supplies.
Sajjad Hussain | AFP | Getty Images
India exceeded 20 million reported cases of Covid-19 on Tuesday.
According to the Ministry of Health, 357,229 new cases were reported within 24 hours, bringing the total to 20.28 million.
India’s first cases were discovered in late January last year, and a total of 10 million infections went undetected in December, according to Johns Hopkins University. However, the next 10 million cases were reported in just under five months, mostly in April.
At least 222,408 people have died from the disease to date, but that number is likely lower than the actual death toll. Media reports suggest that crematoria and burial grounds are overwhelmed with the bodies of those who have died of Covid-19.
“The pandemic has now hit the small towns and villages, and we are now quite concerned about how much devastation it will cause in areas where health systems are not well developed enough to provide support, even if some of the big ones . ” Metros are struggling with the case load from hospitals, “K. Srinath Reddy, president of the Public Health Foundation of India, told CNBC’s Capital Connection on Monday.
Some states are banned
During the first wave last year, India imposed a strict national lockdown between late March and May, which hampered the country’s growth trajectory and left millions of people without a source of income.
While the central government appears unwilling to impose a second nationwide lockdown, several states have tightened restrictions in recent weeks, including local lockdowns and curfews. These include Maharashtra, India’s hardest hit state, Delhi, West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Karnataka and others.
Some health experts have suggested that India needs a national stay at home order and emergency medical statement to meet current health needs.
The Indian health system has been overwhelmed by the surge in cases due to a lack of hospital beds, oxygen supplies and drugs to treat patients.
Public Health Foundation’s Reddy told CNBC India needs a two-pronged approach to tackling the second wave. First, efforts to vaccinate more than 1.3 billion people must continue.
India is facing vaccine shortages, at least in the short term, and just over 2% of the population have received both doses. From May, India will open vaccinations for people over the age of 18
Second, India needs a “very strong” containment strategy to reduce the spread.
We turned our backs on the virus, but the virus hasn’t turned our backs on us. And now we’re paying the price.
K. Srinath Reddy
President of the Public Health Foundation of India
“What we need to do right now is to reduce person-to-person transmission by making sure there are no large crowds,” Reddy said, adding that India should not allow more than four people to be in public places and in areas with high crowds to congregate, positivity rates should be placed in full containment mode.
He added that India needs to ensure adequate social support for people recovering from milder symptoms at home.
How did India get here?
India’s second wave started sometime in February when cases started picking up again. Before that, the country reported an average of 10,000 infections a day. In April there was a steep spike in the curve with nearly 7 million reported cases.
The Indian government has been criticized for gathering large crowds for religious festivals and election campaigns earlier this year. These mass gatherings likely turned into super-spreader events.
Scientists say the increase in cases is also partly due to variants of the coronavirus currently circulating in India. This includes a local variant called B.1.617, which has several sublines with slightly different characteristic mutations.
Reddy stated that India, in its desire to get the economy back on its feet, ignored the looming threat of a second wave.
“I think by early January, when the daily case counts, the daily deaths count, and test positivity rates go down, the widespread impression that we ended the pandemic forever,” he said, adding, “We had Turned our backs on the virus, but the virus hasn’t turned our backs. And now we’re paying the price. “