India’s big cities may see spike in COVID cases next week: experts | Coronavirus pandemic news

Experts say new COVID-19 infections in Indian cities such as the capitals New Delhi and Mumbai are likely to peak next week after a rapid rise, as the country reports the highest number of daily cases since late May.

Thursday’s 247,417 new infections were a more than 30-fold increase from daily cases a month ago, rising as contagion becomes more contagious Omicron variant Replacing Delta nationwide. The total number of infections reached 36.32 million, second only to the United States.

“Our model and others suggest that the peak of cases in India’s large cities should be around January 20, while the overall peak in India may be a little later, by early February,” said Gautam Menon, a professor at the university. Physics and Biology at Ashoka University near the capital.

A health worker takes a swab sample from a woman in MumbaiA health worker collects a swab sample from a woman during a COVID-19 Rapid Antigen Test event at a Mumbai railway station [Francis Mascarenhas/Reuters]

Mumbai recorded a high of 20,971 infections on Friday, but the number of cases has been falling since then. Infection rates are also falling, and nearly 80 percent of COVID-19 beds are empty, city officials said.

Delhi reported more than 27,500 infections on Wednesday, near an all-time high, and its health minister told local media this week that infections could start to drop within days.

Federal and state health officials say most of the ongoing third wave of infections is mild, with fewer hospitalizations and fewer deaths than previous surges that killed hundreds of thousands in April and May.

Common pain relievers such as paracetamol should be sufficient for people with mild fever caused by COVID-19, the ministry said. It warned against complacency, though, as the number of infections has now risen to as many as 300 districts, up from less than 80 districts a week ago.

Rajib Dasgupta, director of the Centre for Social Medicine and Community Health at Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi, said: “The experience of other countries has taught us that tracking/monitoring hospitalizations is more practical than monitoring new cases.”

“Non-drug interventions – lockdowns and the like – are increasingly losing their relevance to rapid and relentless community transmission.”

A healthcare worker collects a COVID-19 test swab sample from a man in Delhi, IndiaA paramedic takes a swab sample from a man as others wait in a market area in Old Delhi [Adnan Abidi/Reuters]

Still, many cities and states, including Delhi, have imposed curfews. The capital also went into full lockdown over the weekend and closed private offices, schools and restaurants for the week.

India’s latest spike in infections five state elections, including the state of Uttar Pradesh with a population of 220 million from February 10.

For the past few weeks, political parties have been holding massive rallies with tens of thousands in attendance.

Super-spreaders worry about mass divine immersion

Last year’s virus surge killed more than 200,000 people — experts say the real number could be much higher — and was partly to blame for mass political rallies and religious events.

West Bengal is holding a massive Hindu religious bazaar On an island in the Ganges this week, Tamil Nadu allowed a bullfighting festival next week.

Hindu pilgrims arrive at the confluence of the Ganges and the Bay of BengalHindu pilgrims arrive at the confluence of the Ganges and the Bay of Bengal ahead of the Makar Sankranti festival in the eastern state of West Bengal [Rupak De Chowdhuri/Reuters]

Officials said they expected as many as 3 million people, including plastered and dreadlocked dervishes, to take a ritual dip in the holy river on Friday at the annual Gangasagar Mela. climax.

The state government on Thursday called on people to get tested for COVID-19, with Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee urging worshippers to wear two masks and not to “spit on the island as it spreads the virus”.

Amitava Nandy, a virologist at the Kolkata School of Tropical Medicine, said the government “has neither the facilities nor the manpower” to test every participant or enforce social distancing norms.

“If the police tried to enforce social distancing on the riverbanks, there could be a stampede-like situation,” Nandy said, adding that the festival “could end up being a superspreader of the virus.”

A man dressed as the Hindu god ShivaA man dressed as the Hindu god Shiva walks to give alms to pilgrims at the confluence of the Ganges and the Bay of Bengal in West Bengal state [Rupak De Chowdhuri/Reuters]

India has vaccinated nearly 70% of its 939 million adult population twice, but many remain unvaccinated. That worries officials, especially as five states hold regional elections.

The country reported 380 COVID-19 deaths on Thursday, more than 46 percent of them in the southern state of Kerala, which had not been previously recorded. The total death toll has reached 485,035, second only to deaths in the United States and Brazil.

Meanwhile, the Indian Council of Medical Research, the government’s top scientific body, on Monday adjusted its mandatory testing guidelines to ease pressure on testing infrastructure. Mandatory testing is no longer required for healthy, asymptomatic contacts of confirmed coronavirus patients.