India has overtaken Brazil as the country with the second highest number of coronavirus infections as it posted a new daily record of more than 168,000 cases.
The vast nation of 1.3 billion people has reported a rapid surge in new infections in recent weeks, with the surge bringing the total number of victims to 13.5 million cases, over 13.48 million in Brazil.
Experts have warned that huge, mostly maskless and densely packed crowds at political rallies in electoral states, religious mass festivals and other public places fueled the new wave of infections.
India has overtaken Brazil as the country with the second highest number of coronavirus infections as it posted a new daily record of more than 168,000 cases
People are waiting to be given the COVISHIELD vaccine at a government hospital in Hyderabad, India on Monday
A woman undergoes a Sars-Cov-2 swab test on a roadside in Bhopal, India on April 10
“The whole country has been complacent – we have allowed social, religious and political communities in,” Rajib Dasgupta, a health professor at Jawaharlal Nehru University, told AFP.
“Nobody was in the queue anymore (because of social distancing).”
The country has registered more than 873,000 cases in the past seven days – a 70 percent increase from the previous week, according to data compiled by AFP.
By comparison, Brazil recorded just over 497,000 cases, a 10 percent increase from the previous week.
A woman receives the COVID-19 vaccine on April 9, 2021 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, at a vaccination station in the Sambodromo
The US – the hardest hit country – reported just under 490,000 cases with a rising trend of nine percent.
The surge in India after daily increases fell below 9,000 in cases in early February has resulted in many hard-hit states and areas restricting movement and activities.
India’s richest state, Maharashtra, which was the main driver of the surge in infections, imposed a weekend lockdown and a night curfew last week.
However, Maharashtra has warned that a full lockdown – a drastic measure national and state governments have tried to avoid in order to protect the already shattered economy – could be imposed in the next few days if cases continue to increase.
“The solution is for everyone to stay at home for two months and end this (pandemic) once and for all. But the public isn’t listening, ”said 28-year-old Rohit, a waiter at a popular Mumbai restaurant who moved to the financial center from northern Punjab to work.
“Nobody follows the rules in the restaurant … When we ask customers to wear masks, they are rude and disrespectful to us.”
The Prime Minister of India’s capital New Delhi, where there is a nightly curfew, said on Sunday that 65 percent of new Covid-19 patients were under 45 years of age.
Grave graves bury victims of Covid who have died in Sao Paulo, Brazil as the country suffers from a wave of infections and deaths
His government did not approve of a lockdown but said it would consider imposing one if hospital beds run out.
Last week, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro further downplayed the risk of the pandemic – insisting “people everywhere are dying”, there is no point in “crying over spilled milk” and hitting heads of state to tighten lockdowns.
In response, the Brazilian Senate has launched an investigation into its handling of the pandemic, including whether the government was responsible for the oxygen starvation in hospitals in Amazoas state in January, which was blamed for dozens of deaths.
The leader of the Brazilian Senate had opposed the move, but his hand was forced after a judge ruled the investigation should continue.
In another blow against Bolsonaro, the judges also ruled Thursday that religious services can be banned by regional leaders to stop the spread of infection – something the president called a violation of the right to religious freedom.