Coronavirus: India reports 53K new infections; 20 Delta+ cases
India on Monday reported 53,256 new COVID-19 cases, the lowest single-day spike in 88 days. The country also reported under 1,500 deaths. Despite a drop in infections, experts maintain that a strict vigil should continue, especially with the emergence of the 'Delta Plus' variant of the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2. Experts say a "third wave of COVID-19" could hit India as early as six-eight weeks.
India's tally reaches 2.99 crore; over 3.88 lakh dead
According to the Union Health Ministry, till Monday morning, India reported a total of 2,99,35,221 COVID-19 cases. The death toll has reached 3,88,135. So far, 2,88,44,199 patients have recovered, while 7,02,887 cases involve active infections. In the past 24 hours alone, India recorded 53,256 new infections, 78,190 more discharges, and 1,422 fresh fatalities. 28,00,36,898 vaccine doses have been administered so far.
73% new cases concentrated in 5 states
Maharashtra reported 9,361 new COVID-19 cases along with 9,101 more recoveries. Karnataka, the second worst-hit state after Maharashtra, reported 4,517 new cases and 8,456 discharges. Meanwhile, the third worst-hit Kerala added 11,647 new cases and 12,459 recoveries. Tamil Nadu, the fourth worst-hit state, reported 7,817 new cases and 17,043 recoveries. Andhra Pradesh reported 5,646 new cases and 7,772 recoveries.
20 'Delta Plus' cases in India; 8 in Maharashtra
Experts told The Times of India on Sunday that India has confirmed 20 cases of the 'Delta Plus' variant (AY.1). Maharashtra accounts for eight of these cases, which are mostly all located in Ratnagiri. The variant mutated from the Delta variant (B.1.617.2) and has the potential of becoming a Variant of Concern, according to Dr. Randeep Guleria, the Director of AIIMS, Delhi.
Vaccination drive should be 4 times faster: Experts
As most regions across India have started lifting lockdowns, it has been cautioned that infections may rise again. Meanwhile, experts recommend that India's vaccination drive should be made at least four times faster. Inoculations have sharply declined from a record high of 45 lakh vaccinations a day on April 5. Thus far, only 3.8% of India's population is fully vaccinated.
Free vaccination for all adults from today
Separately, India's new vaccination policy comes into force from today. The central government will cover the vaccination cost for all adults. Previously, the Centre was only covering the cost for those aged over 45 years. Several states had, however, decide to pay for vaccines for those aged 18-44 years. India also hopes to expand the number of available vaccine doses to address shortages.