By Sarwar Kashani
Srinagar, India, Nov 20 (efe-epa).— The number of total coronavirus cases in India since the start of the pandemic crossed the grim 9-million mark on Friday, health authorities said, even as the new daily infections in the country have steadily declined for weeks now.
The federal health ministry reported 45,882 new cases in the last 24 hours from Thursday morning, taking the overall tally to 9.004 million in a country of 1.35 billion people.
The health authorities also recorded 584 new deaths, taking the overall death toll due to the virus to 132,000 in the world’s second-worst-hit country.
According to the ministry, India currently has less than 444,000 active cases while more than 8.4 million patients have been discharged.
Even though the number of new daily infections has hovered around 45,000, India has seen a constant decline in the number of new cases over the past month.
The second-most populous country took 22 days to go from 8 million cases to 9 million, which indicates that the rate of the spread of the infection has halved from the peak in mid-September, when the number of patients jumped from four million to five million in just 11 days.
The country took 12 days to go from 5 million to 6 million, 13 days from 6 million to 7 million, and 18 days from 7 million to 8 million.
India’s coronavirus tally crossed the first million mark on July 16, more than five and a half months after the authorities registered the first case in the country on Jan.30.
However, the national capital of New Delhi has sparked fresh health concerns with a record rise in daily infections.
The city, with an estimated 19 million residents, has recorded more than 7,500 new infections, marking another day in the last two weeks when daily cases have soared amid a drop in temperatures and a rise in air pollution.
However, the city government said it had noticed a gradual decrease in the number of new Covid-19 cases, which is a “clear indicator” that the spread of the virus was decreasing in the national capital.
“The positivity rate was 15 percent on Nov 7. It is less than 11 percent now. The maximum number of cases (8,593) were reported on Nov 10,” Delhi Health Minister Satyendar Jain told reporters.
“The positivity rate has come down and the number of cases is also reducing gradually.”
The city administration on Friday began a door-to-door survey for identifying and testing symptomatic people living in containment zones and densely packed areas, Jain told reporters.
The government will complete the survey in five days and cover nearly 6 million people.
As families of patients struggled to arrange hospital beds, the government of the capital region announced 1,400 more intensive care beds and asked private hospitals in Delhi to reserve 60 percent of their total bed capacity for treatment of Covid-19 patients.
According to official estimates, more than 90 percent of intensive care beds with ventilators were occupied by patients on Thursday.
Experts and regional authorities have attributed the new wave of virus cases in New Delhi to rising pollution levels and a drop in temperatures.
Several studies have linked air pollution to higher numbers of Covid-19 cases. EFE-EPA