India registers lowest Covid-19 caseload in five months

New Delhi, Dec 15 (efe-epa).- India on Tuesday registered its lowest single-day Covid-19 caseload in over five months, with the number of fresh cases dropping to nearly 22,000, after having registered over 90,000 daily cases during the pandemic’s peak in September.

“India has achieved several significant milestones in its fight against COVID. (…) The daily new cases stand at 22,065 after (a gap of) 161 days,” the health ministry said in a statement.

According to the ministry, this is the lowest number of cases recorded within a single day since Jul. 7, when 22,252 cases were registered.

The fresh cases took India’s total coronavirus caseload to over 9,906,000, while 354 new deaths have been recorded since Monday, taking the total death toll to 143,709.

India continues to be the second most affected country by the pandemic after the United States, which has registered more than 16.9 million cases so far.

The ministry highlighted that India had recorded one of the lowest mortality rate by the disease, around 1.45 percent, among the worst-affected countries.

It also said that the number of active cases had declined drastically to below 340,000 with an “exponential rise in recovery.”

According to the ministry, 34,477 patients recovered and were discharged within the last 24 hours, taking the total number of recoveries to 90,82,816 .

The total positive cases in the country now stand at 3,39,820, constituting 3.43 percent of the total cases.

The Indian government had on Saturday released guidelines for its upcoming mass vaccination program, which is expected to vaccinate nearly 300 million people in the first phase.

The vaccination is expected to kick off as soon as one or more of the frontrunner candidates are authorized for emergency use by the regulators.

Manufacturers have so far applied for market authorization for three candidates: the one being developed by US pharma company Pfizer, another being jointly developed by British-Swedish company AstraZeneca and the Oxford University, and an indigenous candidate under development by local company Bharat Biotech and the Indian Council of Medical Research.

However, the country’s medical institutions and healthcare professionals have struggled to deal with the high workload and lack of support over the past few months, especially since August and September, when cases hit a peak.

Around 5,000 nurses of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), the country’s top medical research and treatment facility, went on an indefinite strike from Tuesday demanding better salaries and opposing hiring of low-paid contractual nurses.

“The AIIMS administration is callous towards the demands of nurses. (….) They want to implement anti-labour policies and wages,” the AIIMS Nurses Union said in an open letter to the public, alleging that the hospital administration was planning to hire unskilled and inexperienced nurses on a contractual basis.

“They are putting the life of patients at risk,” said the union, which received support from various nurses’ organizations in the capital and across the country.

However, later on Tuesday the Delhi High court restrained the health workers from continuing the strike until further orders, after a petition was filed by the hospital administration against the strike.

Local media outlets reported that the AIIMS director had called the union for a discussion on Tuesday evening after the court order. EFE-EPA


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