- Lockdowns loosen less than a month after wave kills thousands
- Efforts must delay or even prevent third wave, expert says
- Pandemic threat will persist for at least a year, poll finds
- The third wave of infections is expected to strike by October
June 18 (Reuters) – Health officials in India’s richest state urged authorities to step up preparations against a possible third wave of coronavirus infections, they said on Friday, as lockdowns eased less than a month after a wave that killed thousands.
India’s second most populous state, Maharashtra, lifted numerous restrictions this week in its cities, such as the financial capital of Mumbai, reopening shopping malls, cinemas and gymnasiums to 50% capacity and freeing offices from staff presence limits.
“We should have a clear plan and have our preparations ready for the next few weeks, whenever the next wave arrives,” Rahul Pandit, member of the state COVID task force and director of Fortis Hospitals in Mumbai, told Reuters. .
“Our efforts should be aimed at delaying the wave as much as possible, and even trying to prevent it.”
A Reuters poll of medical experts has shown that a third wave of infections is expected to hit India by October, and although it is better controlled than the last outbreak, the pandemic will remain a threat to public health for at least a year. Read more
Maharashtra, the epicenter of India’s second wave, is not yet fully out of it, Pandit added, after being stranded in early April as the surge pushed sparse health facilities to a breaking point.
As the media broadcast images of large crowds in markets and streets, with virtually no social distancing, India on Friday reported 62,480 new infections in the past 24 hours, with deaths at a two-month low from 1,587.
But India, along with Brazil, is one of the countries reporting the highest seven-day daily average of deaths.
Maharashtra, with 9,830 new infections overnight, accounts for about one-fifth of India’s total of 29.76 million infections. His death toll stands at over 116,000.
Crowds and traffic have also filled the streets of other cities, from the capital of New Delhi to the southern tech hub of Bengaluru, although experts have warned that a race to resume business could jeopardize vaccination efforts. .
“The government, for its part, must step up vaccination to reach a target of 10 million jabs per day and also trigger a blitzkrieg on the benefits of vaccination to overcome vaccine hesitation,” said Harsh Mahajan, president of Nathealth. , a private health care group. suppliers.
Although India is the world’s largest vaccine producer, it has only managed to inoculate just over 5% of the 950 million eligible adults.
Report by Manas Mishra in Bengaluru; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman
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