India saw a record 3,900 new cases of coronavirus and 195 more deaths today – while New Delhi imposed a 70 percent special tax on alcohol to limit storage after a strong alcohol ban was lifted.
The country’s 1.3 billion saw the total number of cases rise to 46,432, while the death toll is now 1,568, the Ministry of Health said.
The number of infections in India has risen by an average of 6.1 percent in the past week, behind Russia and Brazil, but higher than in the UK, US or Italy.
Health experts say the surge shows India is at risk of a devastating outbreak, despite a severe month-long freeze.
The number of new cases in India has risen to 3,900 today, bringing the total number of cases to 46,432 in a country of 1.3 billion people
India also saw an unprecedented peak death toll of 195, bringing the country’s total death toll to 1,568
A woman with a face mask carries bottles of Dennis whiskey from a liquor store in New Delhi after a coronavirus-related alcohol ban was lifted in India
People wait in line today at a liquor store in Kolkata, lifting the ban across India, while otherwise closing 1.3 billion people in effect
The largest peaks were recorded in the western states of Maharashtra, home to the commercial capital of India, Mumbai, Gujarat and Delhi.
“The curve does not show a downward trend. That is worrying, “said Dr. Randeep Guleria, director of the All-India Institute of Medical Sciences in New Delhi.
Government officials said the closure had helped prevent a surge of infections that could have overwhelmed medical services.
Now, cases double every 12 days, compared to 3.4 days when the closure started, said Lav Agarwal, a joint secretary with the Department of Health.
“Lockdown and containment are delivering results, the challenge now is to improve the doubling rate,” he added.
The closure was relaxed to allow for alcohol sales, but the measure led to large gatherings in liquor stores in Delhi and elsewhere.
People throng around an alcohol shop in New Delhi these days and do not hold any social distance between them
People line up to buy alcohol in New Delhi, watched by people walking down a walkway
Security personnel are trying to calm an unruly crowd while people line up to buy alcohol in New Delhi – which has now imposed a special drink sales tax
Police blamed hundreds of people for coming to the liquor store on Monday.
The state government of Delhi announced late in a public announcement late Monday night a 70 percent “special corona fee” on alcohol sales.
Taxes on alcohol make a significant contribution to the income of many of the 36 Indian states and federal territories, most of which are short of resources.
“It was unfortunate that there was chaos in some stores in Delhi,” said Arvind Kejriwal, the Secretary of State.
“If we become aware of violations of social distance and other norms from any area, we will have to seal the area and withdraw the relaxation there,” he added.
Other states like Andhra Pradesh, where people have also violated social distance measures to queue up for hundreds by alcohol, have also raised prices.
An Indian man with a face mask carries bottles from an alcohol shop where people lined up under the supervision of New Delhi police
A security officer holds the baton while people wait in line – without observing any safety distance – to buy alcohol in New Delhi
Three men carry their new supplies after buying alcohol from a New Delhi store, which is now trying to curb supplies
The wider closure announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the end of March will run until May 17.
All domestic and international travel is prohibited, factories and offices are closed along with schools, and migrant workers have been moved to quarantine centers.
The country’s land borders with Bangladesh, Bhutan, Myanmar, and Nepal are all closed. In any case, the border with Pakistan is heavily controlled.
The death rate in India of 1,568 deaths from 46,432 or 3.4 percent is lower than in some European countries such as the UK and Italy, but not in Germany.
Only six percent of people in India are over the age of 65, compared to 18 percent in the UK and 16 percent in the United States, which could be an advantage against a virus that is most dangerous for the elderly.
The median age of 28 in India is far below that in the US (38), UK (41), Spain (43) or Italy (45).
However, experts fear that there may be a large number of ‘missing’ deaths among people who have died at home.