India has overtaken Brazil as the country with the second highest number of coronavirus infections as it reported a new daily record of more than 168,000 cases.
The sprawling country of 1.3 billion people has reported a rapid rise in new infections in recent weeks, with the rise taking the total toll to 13.5 million cases, more than Brazil’s 13.48 million.
Experts have warned that huge, usually maskless and densely packed crowds at political rallies in election-bound states, massive religious festivals and other public places are fueling the new wave of infections.
India has overtaken Brazil as the country with the second highest number of coronavirus infections as it reported a new daily record of more than 168,000 cases
People are waiting their turn to administer the COVISHIELD vaccine on Monday at a government hospital in Hyderabad, India.
A woman undergoes a Sars-Cov-2 swab test along a road in Bhopal, India, April 10
“The whole country was complacent – we were admitting social, religious and political congregations,” Rajib Dasgupta, a health professor at Jawaharlal Nehru University, told AFP.
“Nobody queued anymore (for social distance).”
According to data from AFP, the country has registered more than 873,000 cases in the past seven days – an increase of 70 percent from the previous week.
In comparison, Brazil registered just over 497,000 cases, an increase of 10 percent from the previous week.
A woman receives the COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination post in the Sambodromo on April 9, 2021 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
The United States – the worst affected country – reported just under 490,000 cases with a nine percent upward trend.
The spike in India, after the daily rise in the number of cases dipped below 9,000 in early February, has resulted in many hard-hit states and territories imposing restrictions on movement and activities.
India’s richest state, Maharashtra, which was the main cause of the infection spike, imposed a weekend lockout and curfew last week.
But Maharashtra has warned that a full lockdown – a drastic measure that national and state governments have tried to avoid to protect the already devastated economy – could be imposed within days as the number of cases continues to grow.
‘The solution is for everyone to stay at home for two months and end this (pandemic) once and for all. But the public isn’t listening, ”said Rohit, 28, a waiter at a popular Mumbai restaurant who moved to the financial center from the northern state of Punjab for work.
“Nobody follows the rules in the restaurant … When we tell customers to wear masks, they are rude and disrespectful to us.”
The prime minister of the Indian capital of New Delhi, which has a curfew, said on Sunday that 65 percent of new Covid-19 patients are under the age of 45.
Grave diggers bury Covid victims who died in Sao Paulo, Brazil as the country suffers a wave of infections and deaths
His government was not in favor of a lockdown, but said it would consider imposing one if hospital beds run out.
Last week, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro continued to downplay the risks of the pandemic – insisting that “ people are dying everywhere, ” there’s no point in “ crying for spilled milk, ” and attacking state leaders for tightening lockdowns.
In response, Brazil’s senate has launched an investigation into its handling of the pandemic, including whether the government was responsible for running out of oxygen in hospitals in Amazoas state in January, which is responsible for dozens of deaths.
The leader of the Brazilian senate had opposed the move, but his hand was forced after a judge ruled that the investigation should go ahead.
In another blow to Bolsonaro, judges also ruled on Thursday that religious services could be banned by regional leaders to stop the spread of infection – something the president said violates the right to freedom of religion.