Women shop at a market following a partial relaxation in the lockdown in Srinagar. AFP
Gulf Today Report
Some of India's states are easing lockdown restrictions as coronavirus infections subside, with the world's second most-populous nation on Saturday logging its lowest daily case count in nearly two months.
The national capital territory of Delhi, the seat of India's federal government, was among those relaxing restrictions and will allow shops to open on alternate days. Shops with even numbers will open on one day while those with odd numbers will open the next day. Private offices will also now be allowed to operate at 50% of normal staffing levels.
A woman gets a nasal swab sample during a door-to-door testing drive in Gauhati, India. AP
"The coronavirus situation in Delhi is slowly getting better," Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said in an online news conference as he announced that the state will build oxygen storage capacity of 420 tonnes.
Hospitals in Delhi had struggled to provide oxygen cylinders and beds to patients as infections surged but that wave began subsiding from the middle of last month.
Kejriwal said the state would in future be prepared to deal with 37,000 new cases a day. Its peak thus far was 28,395 new infections on April 20.
In northern Uttar Pradesh, the country's most populous state, only night curfew restrictions remain for 55 of its 75 districts.
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"Districts which have positive cases under 600 have been given permission to open but with restrictions, while cities with over 600 positive cases will be under lockdown till the next order," a local government spokesperson said.
India reported 114,460 new coronavirus infections on Sunday, the lowest in two months During the same time span, 2,677 more people succumbed to the pandemic, the Union Health and Family Welfare Ministry said.
On Saturday (June 5), India had reported 1,20,529 cases, lowest since April 8.
India's overall tally of COVID-19 cases now stands at 28,809,339 with 1,477,799 active cases and 346,759 deaths so far.
People shop at a market following a partial relaxation in the lockdown in Srinagar. AFP
India has the world's second-largest number of coronavirus infections after the United States with total cases at 28.8 million, according to health ministry data. The country has suffered 346,759 deaths.
A second wave of the coronavirus that has largely battered the rural interiors of the country is yet to abate but New Delhi and other cities are working towards allowing more businesses to operate and movement rules to be relaxed from Monday onwards.
Over the last few days, India's fresh COVID cases have seen downward trend, maintaining over 1000,000 infections every 24 hours, while the deaths have also remained about the 3,000 mark. After battling a brutal second wave for weeks, fresh COVID cases came down below the three lakh-mark for the first time on May 17 after touching record high of 4,14,188 on May 7.
An elderly woman gets AstraZeneca vaccine in a paddy field in Tral village. AP
In the last three weeks, India has recorded over 85,000 deaths. India registered record fatalities due to COVID-19 on May 21 with 4,529 deaths -- the highest from COVID infection in any country in a day since the coronavirus outbreak was reported in China's Wuhan in December 2019. It surpassed 4,468 deaths in the US on January 12, and earlier 4,211 in Brazil on April 6.
The western state of Maharashtra, which is India's richest and has suffered the most infections during the second wave, plans to start this week easing in stages a strict lockdown imposed in April.
Scientists have warned of a third wave of the coronavirus that could hit India later in the year, likely impacting children more.
While the country has ramped up its vaccination drive in the past few weeks after a slow start, a majority of its 1.3 billion people are expected to remain unvaccinated by the time a potential third wave hits.
Cases have fallen steadily in some Indian states hit by an initial surge in infections, such as the richest state of Maharashtra and the capital New Delhi, after they imposed stringent lockdowns. Testing rates also at their lowest since Sunday.
Union Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla has asked all states to ensure strict compliance of Covid containment measures, as the case load is decreasing but numbers are still high.
"In view of the declining cases of corona, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal approved the proposal," the official, who declined to be identified, said of a suggestion from authorities that the weekend curfew be scrapped.
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