India reports 30,000 new Covid-19 cases, lowest in 4 months

New Delhi, Nov 16 (efe-epa).- India on Monday reported 30,548 new cases of Covid-19, the lowest daily tally in four months, according to official figures, even as the national capital New Delhi has been reeling under a new surge of infections.

The federal health ministry’s data showed that the overall tally in the country of 1.35 billion has now risen to more than 8.84 million as the number of daily reported cases continued to decline.

The previous lowest number of daily cases, 29,429, was reported on July 15 in India, which remains the second-worst coronavirus-infected country in the world after the United States.

The ministry reported fresh 435 deaths due to the virus in the last 24 hours from Sunday morning, bringing the number of total fatalities to 130,070.

At 1.47 percent, India’s Covid-19 fatality rate is among the lowest in the world.

According to the ministry, there are 465,478 active cases in the country, which is only 5.2 percent of the total caseload in India.

The ministry said the total number of recoveries has surged to nearly 8.25 million, pushing the national recovery rate to 93.2 percent.

The decline in the number of daily cases began in mid-September even as New Delhi has been recording what experts call the third wave of infections, recording a higher number of new infections than the rest of the country.

In the last two days, the capital has recorded more than 12,000 cases, including new 4,466 infections recorded on Monday morning.

The rising number of daily cases has triggered fresh health concerns in the capital, attributed in part, according to regional authorities, to the increase in pollution levels and the arrival of winter.

To tackle the growing crisis, the federal home ministry on Sunday said it would airlift doctors from other states to the capital and increase the current testing ability in Delhi.

The government also pledged to provide 300 additional intensive care unit beds for coronavirus patients in Delhi.

Federal Health Minister Harsh Vardhan said the surge in the capital was “likely to worsen over next few weeks.”

Delhi’s Health Minister Satyendar Jain, on Monday, dismissed speculations that the capital the government would put under another lockdown in the wake of the third wave of Covid-19.

“There is no chance of a lockdown. I can tell you today that the peak of Delhi’s third wave is gone,” Jain said.

Asked about rumors that the government was planning to shut down markets in the capital, the minister said: “It has not even been considered.”

Much of north India, including New Delhi and its satellite towns of Noida and Gurgaon, are battling a fresh wave of pollution as air quality dropped to a “severe” level, about eight times the safe limit, after revelers violated a ban on bursting of firecrackers for Hindu festival of Diwali.

The Central Pollution Control Board, in a report published, on Sunday, said almost all pollutants had risen on Diwali day and pre-Diwali day this year as compared to 2019.

“It is observed that if compared with 2019 pre-Diwali day concentrations of NO2, PM10 and PM2.5 were found to be much higher on pre-Diwali day (this year). On Diwali day (14.11.2020), almost all the pollutants reported higher values as compared to 2019 Diwali day,” the report said.

Several studies have linked air pollution to higher numbers of Covid-19 cases. Among them, one by Xiao Wu and Rachel C. Nethery of Harvard University links long-term exposure to fine-particulate matter (PM 2.5) and mortality from the virus.

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