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Senin, 05 April 2021

India surpasses 100,000 daily COVID-19 infections for the first time as politicians stage massive election rallies - ABC News

India has reported a record rise in COVID-19 infections, becoming the second country after the United States to surpass more than 100,000 new cases in a day.

And there are fears of further spread of the virus as politicians stage massive election rallies.

The country's daily infections have leapt almost 12-fold since hitting a multi-month low in early February, when authorities eased most restrictions and people largely stopped wearing masks and following social distancing.

Though cases have risen exponentially in nearly a dozen states, politicians and ministers are still addressing election rallies attended by tens of thousands of mask-less people jostling for space.

The health minister in the north-eastern state of Assam, currently voting to elect a new government, was ridiculed on social media on the weekend after saying there was no need for masks in his state and that wearing one hurts businesses like beauty parlours.

More infectious variants of the virus, which were detected nearly a fortnight ago, may have also played a role in the second surge, some epidemiologists say.

The variant, described by officials as a "double mutant", had been found in more than 200 samples in the hardest-hit western state of Maharashtra, which is home to India's financial capital of Mumbai.

Epidemiologists said the term "double mutant" refers to an entirely new variant that has the characteristics of two already identified variants.

"The new variant, or variants of concern, probably explains a lot of it, rather than simplistic explanation of behaviour," said Rajib Dasgupta, head of the Centre of Social Medicine and Community Health in New Delhi's Jawaharlal Nehru University.

A woman wearing a mask standing in front of a hand drawn poster that says Covid-19 vaccination 2021.
Experts say cases will continue to rise until more adults are vaccinated. (

Reuters: Adnan Abidi

)

India's two approved vaccines — one developed by AstraZeneca and the other a homegrown shot from Bharat Biotech — are effective against variants of the virus first identified in Britain and Brazil, health officials said.

With 103,558 new infections, India has now reported 12.6 million cases, the highest after the United States and Brazil, data from the health ministry showed.

Weekend lockdowns to commence

Maharashtra, India's hardest-hit state, reported a record 57,074 new cases overnight.

The state will start shutting shopping malls, cinemas, bars, restaurants and places of worship from Monday evening.

Authorities will also impose a complete lockdown at weekends, as experts worry about a shortage of critical-care beds in hospitals, especially in its smaller cities.

Subhash Salunke, a former WHO official who advises Maharashtra on its COVID-19 strategy, said cases in the state would continue to rise for another couple of weeks.

He said a way out was vaccinating all adults in its hardest-hit cities such as Mumbai, Pune and Nashik.

ABC/wires

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2021-04-05 10:48:43Z
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