India’s coronavirus cases pass the 9 million mark

NEW DELHI: The number of coronavirus cases in India crossed the 9-million mark on Friday, with the capital New Delhi reporting a growing caseload despite a nationwide downward trend of daily infections.
The South Asian country has the world’s second-highest number of Covid-19 infections after the United States, but the spread of the virus has showed signs of slowing down.
The last one million infections have come in 22 days compared to the previous million increments in 18 and 13 days, respectively.
India reported 45,882 new cases since Thursday, taking its total to 9,004,365, according to the morning update on the federal Health Ministry website.
There were 584 fatalities connected with the virus in the same period, bringing the total death toll to 132,162, the world’s third-highest after the US and Brazil. New Delhi reported 7,546 new cases, the highest in the country, and 98 deaths since Thursday.
The local government has
begun a house-to-house survey to detect COVID-19 cases and jacked up the fine for not wearing a
mask in public to 2,000 rupees (about $27) in an effort to contain the surge.
“We don’t want to punish people but hope this will act as a deterrent,” Delhi’s Health Minister Satyendar Jain said. Festival season along with high pollution levels and the onset of winter has led to a spike in cases in the city and its suburbs.
The federal government is assisting in preparing an additional 1,400 intensive care unit beds as hospitals report shortages.
The federal Health Ministry has advised states to increase testing levels to track patients who may have gone undetected.
The ministry has also sent teams of experts to advise on measures to control new surges of COVID-19 in Haryana, Gujarat, Manipur and Rajasthan states.
Meanwhile, the head of an Indian company contracted to make AstraZeneca Plc’s COVID vaccine said it could deliver it to healthcare workers and elderly Indians by January as the country’s caseload of infections crossed nine million on Friday.
The Serum Institute of India, the world’s largest vaccine manufacturer, has already manufactured millions of doses of the vaccine that is being developed in collaboration with Oxford University while results from late-stage trials are awaited.
Britain-based AstraZeneca has signed several supply and manufacturing deals with companies and governments around the world.
On Thursday, data published in the medical journal The Lancet showed that AstraZeneca’s vaccine produced a strong immune response in older adults, with researchers expecting to release late-stage trial results by Christmas. — dpa