News ID: 303098
Published: 0203 GMT May 16, 2021

India's pace of daily COVID-19 infections slows

India's pace of daily COVID-19 infections slows

A health worker takes a nasal swab sample of a woman to test for COVID-19 in Mumbai, India, on April 5, 2021.

India reported a smaller rise in daily coronavirus infections for a third straight day on Sunday, as the government said it was working to boost vaccine supplies to avert deaths beyond the pandemic toll of more than 270,000.

The number of deaths in a 24-hour period rose over 4,000 for the fourth time in a week, with Sunday’s 311,170 new infections representing the lowest single-day rise in more than three weeks, Reuters reported.

Federal health officials warned against interpreting a “plateauing” in the rise as a sign for complacency, however, and urged states to add intensive care units and strengthen their medical workforce.

Even though India is the world’s largest vaccine-producing nation, it has fully vaccinated only 2.9% of its population of 1.35 billion, or just over 40.4 million people, Health Ministry data shows.

India’s supply of vaccine doses should rise to 516 million doses by July, and more than two billion between August to December, boosted by domestic production and imports, Health Minister Harsh Vardhan said in a statement.

Vaccines were resulting in milder infections and preventing loss of life, states told Vardhan on Saturday, according to the statement.

India could protect itself from future waves of the pandemic by vaccinating 510 million people, or more than 40% of its population, over the next few months, surgeon Devi Shetty told news channel India Today in an interview.

India’s massive second wave of infections began in February, putting hospitals and medical workers under unprecedented pressure.

But cases have fallen steadily in states hit by an initial surge of infections, such as Maharashtra and the northern state of Delhi, after they imposed stringent lockdowns.

Total infections have risen by more than two million this week and deaths by nearly 28,000. Deaths rose by 4,077 on Sunday.

Police are reaching out to villagers in northern India to investigate the recovery of bodies buried in shallow sand graves or washing up on the Ganges River banks, prompting speculation on social media that they were the remains of COVID-19 victims.

On Friday, rains exposed the cloth coverings of bodies buried in shallow sand graves on the riverbank in Prayagraj, a city in Uttar Pradesh state.

Navneet Sehgal, a state government spokesman, on Sunday denied local media reports that more than 1,000 corpses of COVID-19 victims had been recovered from rivers in the past two weeks. “I bet these bodies have nothing to do with COVID-19,” he said.

He said some villagers did not cremate their dead, as is customary, due to a Hindu tradition during some periods of religious significance and disposed of them in rivers or digging graves on riverbanks.

Health authorities last week retrieved 71 bodies that washed up on the Ganges River bank in neighboring Bihar state.





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