India braces for possible coronavirus outbreak as cases rise in neighborhood

New Delhi, Dec 27 (EFE).- Hospitals across India conducted simulated drills on Tuesday to prepare for a possible new Covid-19 outbreak after a record increase in coronavirus cases in neighboring China.

“It is critical since Covid cases are expected to increase in the coming days,” federal Health Minister Manshukh Mandaviya said.

The minister was speaking to the media at the government-run Safdarjung Hospital in New Delhi.

“We are conducting mock drills at hospitals around the country that have treated Covid patients so that all health institutions are prepared if cases grow,” Mandaviya said.

The new preparedness comes even as the daily coronavirus cases barely cross the 200-mark in India.

But infections have surged in China since Beijing relaxed its harsh restrictions earlier this month, sparking fresh Covid concerns in the region.

India lifted most of its Covid restriction earlier this year after coronavirus cases began dropping sharply.

The minister said that health authorities would closely assess hospital resources like the availability of ventilators, medical oxygen, and ensuring a sufficient number of beds in the event of a new spate of cases.

The government wants to prevent the recurrence of health crisis during the second wave of the virus outbreak that left dramatic images of crowded hospitals and crematoriums in 2021.

“Seeing the Covid outbreak (across the world), Prime Minister (Narendra Modi) has asked that we remain alert and prepared so that Covid does not spread in India or cases do not increase,” Mandaviya said.

He said the health authorities were “working hard to ensure that Covid does not resurface in the country.”

The southern state of Karnataka has ordered a series of measures to prevent an outbreak and made masks mandatory in closed spaces like schools, universities, cinemas, and restaurants.

New Year’s eve parties have also been restricted in Karnataka.

The federal government on Saturday announced that passengers arriving from China, Japan, South Korea, Hong Kong, and Thailand would be subjected to a mandatory PCR test on arrival in India.

The government said that the passengers showing symptoms indicative of the virus or testing positive would be quarantined.

India as one of the worst affected by the pandemic, with over 44.6 million cases and 530,680 deaths so far.

However, international bodies such as World Health Organization have estimated that the real death toll could have been as high as 4.7 million.

The second wave to hit India was especially virulent and resulted in daily case loads of over 35,000 and more than 3,700 daily deaths at its peak in May 2021, triggering a chronic oxygen shortage in the hospitals. EFE


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