Curfew in Delhi as India COVID cases surge
January 5, 2022 1:07 pm
Nearly a third of new daily infections have been reported from Delhi and Mumbai [Source: BBC]
India is bracing for a third wave of coronavirus as its largest cities – the capital Delhi and financial hub Mumbai – see a surge in cases.
India reported 37,379 cases on Tuesday, a fivefold rise in a week that experts say is fuelled by the Omicron variant.
Nearly a third of those infections came from Delhi and Mumbai, where cases are rising most steeply.
Both cities have brought back curfews and other restrictions to halt the spread of the virus.
Dr NK Arora, head of India’s vaccine task force, told NDTV on Monday that the third wave of the pandemic had already begun in the country, adding that the “whole wave seems to be driven by a new variant… Omicron”.
The country has reported more than 1,700 Omicron cases – Maharashtra, of which Mumbai is the capital, is leading the table (568), followed by Delhi (382).
Delhi’s health minister Satyendar Jain has said that 81% of Covid samples in the city tested positive for Omicron.
The All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) – one of India’s major hospitals – in Delhi has cancelled winter leave for doctors, according to reports.
The rising infections are a sombre reminder of the devastating second wave India faced in April and May – daily averages of about 400,000 cases at the peak of the crisis.
Delhi was among the hardest hit cities as hospitals across the country ran out of beds and life-saving oxygen, leaving patients gasping for breath. Crematoriums were overwhelmed, forcing people to hold mass burials in open spaces.
Caseloads did drop eventually – for many months the national tally remained well under 10,000 cases a day.
Now as cases rise again, state governments are re-imposing restrictions.
Preliminary data suggests that fewer people infected with Omicron need hospital treatment when compared with other variants. But experts advise caution as a surge in cases could put hospitals under strain.
On Tuesday, authorities in Delhi imposed a weekend curfew, with all non-essential activity banned between Friday night and Monday morning. The capital last week closed gyms and cinemas, as well as imposing an overnight curfew in an effort to stem the spread.