Coronavirus: India records 4K deaths again as lockdown calls grow
India on Sunday reported over 4,000 fresh fatalities due to COVID-19 for the second consecutive day. The death toll stands at 2.42 lakh. The number of infections has climbed to 2.23 crore with over 4 lakh new cases being added over a single day. As the second wave continues to rage, the pressure on the central government to enforce a nationwide lockdown also grows.
India adds 4.03 lakh cases, 4,092 deaths
According to the Union Health Ministry, till Sunday morning, India reported a total of 2,22,96,414 COVID-19 cases. The death toll has reached 2,42,362. Since the beginning of the pandemic, 1,76,12,351 patients have recovered, while 37,36,648 cases involve active infections. In the past 24 hours alone, India recorded 4,03,738 new infections and 4,092 fresh fatalities. 16,94,39,663 vaccine doses have been administered so far.
Tamil Nadu sees record spike for 25th consecutive day
With 53,605 new cases, Maharashtra continued to report the highest number of new cases for any state. The state also reported 864 more deaths. Karnataka—the second worst-hit state after Maharashtra—reported 47,563 new cases, while the third worst-hit Kerala added 41,971 new cases. Tamil Nadu—the fourth worst-hit state—reported 27,397 new cases; the biggest spike for the 25th consecutive day.
Bengal, Punjab, Assam, Himachal report record spikes
At least four states independently reported a record single-day spike in infections. These include the states of West Bengal (19,436 new cases), Punjab (9,100), Assam (5,756), and Himachal Pradesh (5,424). Meanwhile, Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Delhi, Goa, Gujarat, Haryana, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, and Uttarakhand continued to report a high number of daily infections and deaths.
Centre remains reluctant to announce nationwide lockdown
Although several Indian states have imposed strict lockdowns over the past month, the Centre remains reluctant to announce a nationwide lockdown. The Opposition; experts, both national and international; and the public have been calling for a nationwide lockdown. In an editorial Saturday, the medical journal The Lancet also harshly criticized the Narendra Modi government's handling of the pandemic and called for a lockdown.
Vaccination drive slows down
On May 1, India expanded its vaccination program to include the 18-45 demographic. However, daily doses administered have dropped 38% over the past month. Several states have complained about a shortage of vaccine doses, which has made it difficult for many to get vaccinated. Those who manage to make it to vaccination centers are fortunate as most others struggle to pre-book slots for inoculation.
Expand health infrastructure, genome sequencing, say experts
Meanwhile, hospitals, morgues, and crematoriums remain over-burdened across India. The Modi government has been facing criticism for being unable to expand its health infrastructure, with experts recommending setting up makeshift emergency hospitals quickly. With the different variants of the virus popping up, experts are also pushing for increased genome sequencing of the strains to better ascertain their spread and virulence.