Covid-19 cases surge after India lifts restrictions

A sharp rise in infections has put some health officials on alert

A quarantine centre in Mumbai on Monday. According to the Indian Health Ministry, Covid-19 infections are on the rise, with about 4,500 new cases reported in the past 24 hours. Photo: EPA
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Covid-19 cases are rapidly rising in India, with the country recording more than 4,500 new infections for a second consecutive day.

The authorities have been witnessing a surge in Maharashtra and the southern states of Kerala, Telangana, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka.

It logged 4,518 new cases on Monday — a three-month high, taking the tally to more than 43 million. The number of active cases has jumped to 25,000, according to the Ministry of Health.

At least nine people lost their lives to the disease on Sunday, pushing the total death toll to more than 524,000.

Maharashtra state recorded nearly 1,500 cases, of which nearly 1,000 were in the financial capital, Mumbai. At least three other districts have experienced a rise in cases.

The test positivity rate in the city shot up to 10.9 per cent, the municipality said.

The sudden surge in cases has prompted the authorities to restart “war rooms” to monitor potential carriers of the virus and set up dedicated hospitals with adequate medical teams and ambulances.

Testing and booster shots will also be increased, the authorities said.

“We are reopening the war room set up from today and will soon start the hospitals. Although the situation doesn’t seem serious and is unlikely to be the third wave, we have to be on a war footing to face any situation,” Suhas Chandrakant Wadkar, Mumbai’s deputy mayor, told The National.

Maharashtra is one of the worst-affected states. It reported widespread infections during the second wave of the pandemic last year but as cases significantly dropped earlier this year, the authorities lifted all Covid-19 restrictions in April, including its mask mandate.

The state education minister on Monday said schools would reopen on June 15 after the summer break, with Covid measures in place. However, masks would not be mandatory.

In Kerala, 11 districts have experienced an increase in infections. The state authorities instructed districts to encourage people to take the second dose of a Covid vaccination and booster shots.

“With the decrease in the number of Covid (infections), many were reluctant to take the second dose of vaccine and precaution dose. That could be dangerous. Those with symptoms should get tested,” Veena George, Kerala's Health Minister, said on a social media post.

The civic body has also planned to boost vaccination among the 12-18 age group.

Rajesh Bhushan, India's Health Secretary, last week asked states to continue their measures to effectively tackle the surge in Covid-19 cases.

“It is essential that the state must maintain a strict watch and take pre-emptive action, if it is required, to control any emerging spread of infection,” Mr Bhusan said.

India has increased testing, conducting more than 270,000 on Sunday. It has also vaccinated more than 1.9 billion people since starting a vaccination drive in January last year.

Updated: June 06, 2022, 11:49 AM