India’s COVID-19 Daily Cases

India’s COVID-19 Daily Cases


India’s new coronavirus cases dipped marginally on Sunday but deaths due to the infection jumped by a record 3,689, with one more state going into lockdown as the nation’s creaky healthcare system is unable to cope with a massive caseload.

Authorities reported 392,488 new cases in the previous 24 hours to push total cases to 19.56 million. So far, the virus has killed 215,542 people.

Indian hospitals, morgues and crematoriums have been overwhelmed as the country has reported more than 300,000 daily cases for more than 10 days straight. Many families have been left on their own to scramble for medicines and oxygen.

Nearly 10 Indian states and union territories have imposed some form of restrictions, even as the federal government remains reluctant to impose a national lockdown.

The eastern state of Odisha became the latest to announce a two-week lockdown, joining Delhi, Maharashtra, Karnataka and West Bengal. Other states, including Uttar Pradesh, Telangana, Assam, Andhra Pradesh and Rajasthan, have either imposed night curfews or weekend lockdowns.

The Indian Express newspaper reported on Sunday that the country's COVID-19 taskforce has advised the federal government to impose a national lockdown.

Last month Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said all efforts should be made be avoid a lockdown.

The federal government fears another lockdown will have a devastating impact on the economy. The lockdown imposed last year after the first COVID-19 outbreak led to job losses as economic output fell a record 24% in April-June 2020 compared with the same period a year earlier.

Modi's government has been criticised for letting millions of largely unmasked people attend religious festivals and crowded political rallies in five states through March and April. Daily cases in these states have spiked since then.

Reuters reported on Saturday that the federal government has been accused of failing to respond to a warning in early March from its own scientific advisers that a new and more contagious variant was taking hold in the country. A forum of scientific advisers set up by the Indian government has told authorities about minor mutations in some samples of the coronavirus that could “possibly evade immune response” and require more study, a leader of the forum.

However the advisers said while they were flagging the mutations, there was no reason currently to believe they were expanding or could be dangerous.

Scientists are studying what led to the current surge in cases in India and particularly whether a variant first detected in the country, called B.1.617, is to blame. The World Health Organization has not declared the Indian variant a “variant of concern,” as it has done for variants first detected in Britain, Brazil and South Africa. But the WHO said on April 27 that its early modelling, based on genome sequencing, suggested that B.1.617 had a higher growth rate than other variants circulating in India.

The forum of advisers, known as the Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genetics Consortium, or INSACOG, has now found more mutations in the coronavirus that it thinks need to be tracked closely.

"We are seeing some mutation coming up in some samples that could possibly evade immune responses," said Shahid Jameel, chair of the scientific advisory group of INSACOG and a top Indian virologist. He did not say if the mutations have been seen in the Indian variant or any other strain.

"Unless you culture those viruses and test them in the lab, you can't say for sure. At this point, there is no reason to believe that they are expanding or if they can be dangerous, but we flagged it so that we keep our eye on the ball," he said.

INSACOG brings together 10 national research laboratories. India reported more than 400,000 new COVID-19 cases for the first time on Saturday. The rampaging infections have collapsed its health system in places including capital New Delhi, with shortages of medical oxygen and hospital beds.
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