India on Friday reported 81,441 new coronavirus cases--the most in a day since October 2--and 468 deaths from the disease, as a second wave of the pandemic sweeps through the country’s urban centres. Mumbai saw its biggest single-day spike of nearly 8,700 cases, Delhi’s tally grew by about 2,800.
A day earlier, India opened its Covid-19 vaccination programme to everyone older than 45 years, hoping the inoculations would slow down the second wave that began around the second half of February with infections spiking in Maharashtra. Infection surges in the past few weeks mirror India’s biggest cities being overrun with the first Covid-19 wave between July and September last year.
Mumbai and Delhi have reported infection spikes, even as other major cities like Pune, Bengaluru and Chennai are also battling a rise in daily infections.
“New infections will turn into a "full-blown crisis" if people don’t take guard,” the Times of India quoted Dr Randeep Guleria, director of All India Institute of Medical Sciences in Delhi, as saying. “It took several months for the Covid-19 tally in the country to cross the 70,000 mark during the first wave. This time around, we are seeing a very steep curve,” said Guleria, also a member of a national taskforce for Covid-19.
“In some states in particular, there is a huge cause for worry, so no state, no part of our country, no district should be complacent,” NITI Aayog member (health) Dr V K Paul said on Tuesday during the Union health ministry’s weekly Covid-19 briefing.
In a letter to states on Tuesday, Union health secretary Rajesh Bhushan wrote: “…the current rise in cases is of concern and has the potential of overwhelming health care systems, unless checked right now.”
More than 2.2 million people signed up for coronavirus vaccines and at least 2 million were given shots till 9 pm on Thursday, the first of the expanded inoculation drive. The government also asked all states to ensure vaccination centres stayed open on all days, including public holidays.