India’s COVID-19 outbreak has steadied in parts of the country, a government official said, but deaths rose by 4,194 on Saturday and the infection cases were spreading in rural areas where public health services are rare and already overstrained.
Whereas India has reported more than 400,000 infections a day in early May but the numbers have gradually eased. On Saturday, government data showed 257,299 new cases.
Active cases are highest in the state of Maharashtra and Karnataka, home to the tech hub of Bengaluru, and the coastal state of Kerala had fallen in the last two weeks, health ministry official Lav Agarwal told reporters.
Numbers are increasing in the affected states including West Bengal, where recently state elections have concluded, and the southern states of Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu were on the rise, he said.
With hospitals overflowing with Covid and black fungus patients, the health system overwhelmed in the cities and an extreme shortage of vaccines has resulted in a health crisis in overall India.
Whereas experts have warned India could face a third wave of infections in the coming months, which would be more deadly than before if the precautionary measures are not taken properly.
“While it (spread of coronavirus) has stabilized in many parts of the country, and overall the burden has been lessened, we have a long way to go with this wave,” Dr. V. K. Paul, part of a federal government panel on COVID-19 management, told a news conference.
“For the first time, we have seen that rural areas have been affected by this pandemic.”
Total infections in the country stood at 26.3 million, the second-highest in the world after the United States, while the country’s total death toll was 295,525.
On the contrary Prime Minister Narendra Modi and state authorities have faced extensive criticism for failing to counter the pandemic as many officials gear up for another rush.
The slow pace of vaccination in the country is another major concern, whereas the city authorities had been forced to halt vaccinations for those aged between 18 and 44 as supplies had run out.
The chief minister of Andhra Pradesh urged Modi to help with supplies as the state had no stocks to vaccinate those aged below 45.