Raise Alarm in India for Covid Risks as Crowds Return to Shopping Malls and Train Stations | India News
Delhi and Bengaluru are among the cities that have started lifting strict closures as the national count of new infections fell to its lowest level in more than two months.
After a strict five-week lockdown, the Delhi authorities have completely reopened shops and malls, allowing restaurants to have 50% seats. Suburban train networks can operate at 50% capacity and offices have been partially reopened.
“The best shopping mall in Delhi saw 19,000 people pass by last weekend, as soon as it reopened. Have we gone totally crazy?” Ambrish Mithal, a physician at Max HealthCare hospital in New Delhi, said on Twitter. “Wait for Covid-19 to explode again and blame the government, the hospitals, the country.”
Number of cases in #Delhi in the last 24 hours- 131👏👏👏The first #mall in Delhi saw a footfall of 19,000 people last weekend- a… https://t.co/x3AjUoXztL
– Dr. Ambrish Mithal (@DrAmbrishMithal) 1623720992000
Disease experts have warned that a race to resume normal activities would compromise vaccination efforts, as only about 5% of the 950 million eligible adults have been vaccinated.
Doctors say the almost complete reopening of Delhi is concerning. City authorities have said they would re-impose strict restrictions if necessary.
Thousands died in the capital in May, when oxygen supplies nearly disappeared and families pleaded on social media for the meager hospital beds. Many died in parking lots and morgues ran out of space.
However, the city government said vaccination centers for people between the ages of 18 and 44 would begin to close on Tuesday as doses were low.
INOCULATION CHALLENGE, TESTING
India has been administering an average of 2.4 million injections a day. Health officials say vaccines must be at least four times higher to avoid a third wave of infections. read more
At the height of the second wave in April and May, up to 170,000 people died.
The Delta variant, first identified in India, has accelerated infections. And worryingly, the virus has spread to the vast interior of India, where two-thirds of the population live, and vaccinations have been even slower.
As restrictions are lifted in big cities, migrant workers have started to return from the countryside.
In the southern state of Karnataka’s capital Bengaluru, the media reported large crowds of workers at train stations.
“Unfortunately, citizens regard the government’s response to the reopening as a victory,” Dr. Vishal Rao, a member of the expert committee of the Karnataka Covid task force, told Reuters.
Across the country, India reported 60,471 new Covid-19 infections in the past 24 hours, the lowest since March 31, data from the Health Ministry showed.
India added 2,726 deaths overnight, bringing the overall tally to 377,031.
Both the death toll and the number of infection cases, at 29.57 million, were the second highest after the United States, but experts say the official figures are a huge understatement. Only people who have tested positive are counted, and in India, the tests have been woefully inadequate.
The Times of India reported on Tuesday that a staggering 100,000 people received false ‘negative’ reports of Covid-19 infections in the northern city of Haridwar when tens of thousands of Hindu devotees gathered on the banks of the Ganges River for the ‘Kumbh. Mela ‘. , or festival of the jug, in April.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi was widely criticized for failing to suspend the Kumbh (only belatedly urging religious leaders to celebrate symbolically) and for addressing large rallies during state elections also in April. read more
“One in 4 tests during Kumbh turned out to be false. That’s from a single sample collection agency. There are 8 more to go.” Rijo M John, a professor at the Rajagiri College of Social Sciences in the southern city of Kochihe said on Twitter.
“Basically just the tip of the iceberg.”