India’s confirmed coronavirus cases crossed half a million yesterday with another record jump of 18,552 infections in just one day.
The shocking surge prompted authorities in the northeastern state of Assam to impose a two-week lockdown in the state capital of Gauhati, about 700 new cases were reported there in just four days.
People have been urged to store essential goods as during the impending tighter lockdown even grocery stores would have to be closed.
The full effect of the pandemic is not expected to peak in India for several more weeks, experts fear the number of cases could easily pass one million before the end of July- unless further preventative measures are taken.
A hard-hitting nationwide lockdown that started March 25 is gradually being eased because of the damage caused to the economy. Scientists have warned that this could lead to a catastrophic event but so far their advice is being ignored.
The virus has particularly hit India’s densely populated cities and there are now major concerns for New Delhi, which has overtaken Mumbai with nearly 80,000 cases. The city’s government has predicted it will have 500,000 infections by the end of July. It is already using railway carriages to house patients and has taken over hotels and banquet halls to relieve the pressure on hard-pressed hospitals.
The government has been criticized over a lack of testing that experts say has hidden the true number of cases in India, which now stands at 509,000. Health officials are warning of a complete collapse of the system as they struggle to treat an ever-increasing amount of patients.
The country is currently fourth in the world for the number of infections, behind the United States, Brazil, and Russia, though it has a much lower death toll.