India crosses 1.5 million Covid-19 cases

New Delhi, Jul 29 (efe-epa).- India on Wednesday crossed 1.5 million Covid-19 cases, more than half a million of them in the last 12 days, according to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.

The south Asian country remains the most affected nation in Asia and the third most severely hit in the world by the novel coronavirus after the United States and Brazil.

Data from the Ministry revealed that 12,459 new cases were detected in the last 24 hours, taking the total number of cases to 1,531,669, including 34,193 deaths, 768 of them between Tuesday and Wednesday.

With the infection curve still out of control, the country with the world’s second highest population – around 1.3 billion – has added more than half a million cases since July 17, when the country crossed one million infections.

India recorded its first 0.5 million confirmed cases early June, when the country had begun to progressively lift the lockdown measures as the economy had come to a grinding halt.

Despite the large number of cases, the government has continued to emphasize on the low mortality rate – around 15 deaths per million inhabitants -, a recovery rate of 64.5 percent with more than 988,000 patients who have overcome the disease, and its PCR testing strategy.

According to data from the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), so far 17.7 million tests have been conducted, and more than 400,000 tests are being carried out everyday.

Although several regions have re-imposed containment measures, such as the eastern city of Kolkata, Bihar, Jammu and Kashmir and Nagaland, among others, the central government is yet to take a decision on the matter.

Earlier this month, the government also allowed selected international flights by establishing “air bubbles” with some countries such as France and the United States.

Virologist and former head of ICMR, Jacob Tekkekara, who, in a recent interaction with EFE, had ruled out the need reimpose lockdown across the country, reiterated his opinion on Wednesday.

However, he stressed that “the government should consider implementing some restrictions again” such as on restaurants, hotels and temples, which were reopened in June.

The western state of Maharashtra remains the worst affected by the epidemic, accounting for 391,440 cases and 14,165 deaths, with the slums in the financial capital of Mumbai witnessing a large number of infections.

In these impoverished neighborhoods, 57 percent of the residents have been exposed to the novel coronavirus, compared to only 16 percent in the rest of the city, according to data from the first phase of a seroprevalence study by local authorities released Wednesday.

At this stage, 6,936 samples were collected from residents of three areas of the city in the first half of July. The study further revealed that the prevalence of the coronavirus was marginally higher in women than in men.

The “higher prevalence (of infections) in slums could be due to its population density and because people who live there have less access to hygienic measures and share facilities such as bathrooms,” Sandeep Juneja of the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, which was involved in carrying out the study, explained to EFE.

Another seroprevalence study last week in New Delhi, the second most affected region with 132,275 confirmed cases and 3,881 deaths, revealed that 23.48 percent of its 18 million inhabitants have been affected by the virus. EFE-EPA


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