India’s coronavirus cases top nine million mark
More than 132,000 people have died with the virus in the country.
India’s total number of coronavirus cases since the pandemic began crossed the nine million mark on Friday.
Nevertheless, the country’s new daily cases have seen a steady decline for weeks now and the total number of cases represents 0.6% of India’s 1.3 billion population.
The health ministry reported 45,882 new infections and 584 fatalities in the past 24 hours on Friday. The death toll since the pandemic began is more than 132,000.
Authorities in capital New Delhi are fighting to head off nearly 7,500 new cases a day while ensuring that the flagging economy does not capsize again.
The government raised the fine for not wearing a mask four times to 2,000 rupees (£20) as it considered fresh restrictions.
Dr SK Sarin, director of New Delhi’s Institute of Liver and Biliary Sciences, said: “The next four weeks are crucial. The road is very bumpy.”
In prime minister Narendra Modi’s home state of Gujarat, authorities announced a weekend curfew beginning on Friday in the city of Ahmedabad to curb infections.
It took India 12 days to go from five million cases to six million, 13 days to go from six million to seven million, 18 days to go from seven million to eight million, and 22 days to go from eight million to nine million.
A badly-hit economy means that authorities have prioritised opening despite new infections.
Markets are still packed with crowds in different parts of the country including New Delhi, Mumbai, Ahmedabad, Lucknow and Patna as mask and distancing fatigue set in during the October-November festival season.
In New Delhi hospitals, the situation is worrying.
Government figures showed 90% of the available critical care beds with ventilators and 86% of critical care beds without ventilators for virus patients were full by Thursday.
There were less than 500 available critical care beds for virus patients in the capital, a city with a population of 29 million.
Efforts are being made by New Delhi authorities to add 1,400 critical care beds.
State chief minister Arvind Kejriwal said Thursday that all private hospitals have been asked to reserve 80% of their critical care beds, and over 60% of their other beds for virus patients.