India records less than 20,000 daily Covid-19 cases after nearly 6 months

New Delhi, Dec 22 (efe-epa).- India on Tuesday reported less than 20,000 fresh cases of Covid-19, the first time that the daily caseload in the country of over 1.3 billion people has dropped below this mark in nearly six months, after it witnessed around 100,000 new infections every day during the pandemic’s peak in September.

With 19,556 new infections registered within the last 24 hours, India’s total caseload is approaching the 10.1 million mark, as it remains the second worst affected country by the pandemic after the United States, which has reported over 18 million cases.

According to data released by the Indian health ministry, 301 new deaths were reported since Monday, a far cry from the daily death tolls of around 1,000 registered repeatedly in September.

A total of 146,111 people have died of Covid-19 since Mar. 12, when the first death due to the disease was reported.

“India has achieved a new low in daily cases. Less than 20,000 daily new cases (19,556) were added to the national tally in the last 24 hours after 173 days,” the ministry said in a statement.

This is the lowest daily case count since Jul. 2, when 19,148 infections had been reported.

Although on Saturday India achieved the dubious distinction of being only the second country to cross 10 million coronavirus cases, a high recovery rate, low mortality and widespread testing of asymptomatic people have helped it stage a recovery from the pandemic despite the difficulties posed by its dense population.

The number of active cases has dropped below 300,000 for the first time in five months, currently standing at 292,518.

“The share of active cases in the total positive cases has further shrunk below 3 percent to 2.9 percent. This is lowest after 163 days,” said the ministry. On Jul. 12, the number of active cases had stood at 292,258.

According to comparative data published by Indian authorities, India has one of the lowest number of active cases per million population worldwide at 219, compared to countries such as the US (22,056), Italy (10,307), Brazil (3,779), Russia (3,575) and Turkey (2,433).

The decline in cases comes amid the fifth phase of easing of lockdown measures by the government, a process that began in June and has resulted in the reopening of nearly all economic activity including cafes and cinema halls and resumption of public transport as well as most of the recreational and sports activities.

The authorities are also preparing a mass vaccination drive for a population of over 1.3 billion, set to kick off as soon as the regulators grant emergency use licenses to at least one of the vaccine candidates.

Manufacturers of least three such prototypes, including Pfizer and AstraZeneca, have sought permission from regulators for emergency use of their vaccines.

In the first phase, India aims to vaccinate around 300 million people consisting of health and frontline workers, people above the age of 60 or those older than 50 and carrying chronic ailments. EFE-EPA


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