India registers 264,202 Covid-19 cases amid religious gatherings

New Delhi, Jan 14 (EFE).- India reported Friday 264,202 cases of the coronavirus in the last 24 hours, as a third wave of the virus has led to a rapid increase in infections amid plans for mass religious gatherings.

The South Asian country crossed 250,000 daily cases for the first time in more than seven months, the Indian Ministry of Health reported, bringing the total infections about 36.4 million since the start of the pandemic.

The positivity rate stood at 14.78 percent, compared to the 1.1 percent just two weeks ago, marking the rapid increase in cases.

The Asian country has detected 5,753 cases of the Omicron variant since the beginning of December, although experts claim the actual number is significantly higher.

Amid the rising cases, the authorities’ permission to organize a religious bath to be attended by thousands of devotees on the banks of the Ganges River in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh has led to controversy.

Last year, a similar event in the neighboring state of Uttarakhand was believed to have contributed to the rapid rise in cases at the start of the second wave of the coronavirus.

India became the global epicenter of the pandemic in May 2021, during a devastating second wave with more than 400,000 daily infections and over 4,500 deaths per day, resulting in shortage of hospital beds and medical oxygen.

But in some cities like New Delhi, infection numbers have exceeded the records during the second wave.

The Indian capital recorded 28,867 cases of Covid-19 yesterday, compared to a peak of about 25,000 in May last year.

Health authorities have pointed out that the rise in cases driven by Omicron requires fewer hospitalizations than the Delta variant, predominant during the second wave in the country.

However, organizations such as the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) have pointed out that the rise in cases due to the new variant could cause a collapse of healthcare systems in South Asian countries, similar to that suffered by India and Nepal last year. EFE


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