India passed the six million official COVID-19 case mark on Monday, India’s Ministry of Health said.
With 6.1 million infections, India could therefore overtake the United States (7.2 million) in the coming weeks to become the country in the world with the most confirmed cases.
India is one of the countries of greatest concern to experts, due to its very large population – 1.3 billion people – and the fact that it has some of the most densely populated cities in the world, with a of fragile health.
The country officially registers 80,000 to 90,000 new cases every day, the strongest increases in the world for several weeks.
When it comes to fatalities, India has a much lower rate than some of the worst-affected countries. It officially has nearly 100,000 deaths since the start of the pandemic; the United States, with roughly a quarter of its population, has 205,000.
“Weapons against the coronavirus”
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday called on the population to continue wearing the mask outside.
“These rules are weapons in the war against the coronavirus. They are powerful tools to save the life of every citizen, ”Modi said in his monthly radio address.
Large metropolises like Bombay and Delhi were the first to be affected by the virus. But it has spread to regions and rural areas, where health infrastructure is less developed.
“The infection is spreading in several areas where transmission is active,” former health minister Sujatha Rao told AFP. “It is difficult to control transmission in such a situation and a radical turn may only be possible with the rigorous application of containment and preventive measures such as wearing a mask. “
No second confinement
But despite this progression of the epidemic, the government is unlikely to decide on a new lockdown, the first imposed in March having plagued the country’s economy.
You can’t shut down all businesses, because you can’t let the economy collapse. […] COVID-19 will not pay the rent.
On the contrary, it keeps lifting the restrictions. Some schools have reopened. Trains, subways, domestic flights, markets and restaurants can now operate normally and the Taj Mahal reopened to tourists a week ago.
“The epidemic is deeply rooted in the population,” Anand Krishnan, professor at the country’s most prestigious public body, the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) in Delhi, told AFP. “The only thing to do is take care of sick people, identify them faster and treat them better. And follow social distancing standards. “
Some Delhi residents have told AFP that their concerns about the virus are not as strong as they used to be. “I’m away from home all day for my job. But if not, I don’t leave my house, ”says Umang Chutani, 23, who works in a pharmacy.
Himanshu Kainthola, 61, who was ill with COVID-19 last month but has since recovered, also explains that concerns have “dropped a lot” in his family. “We made a point. We take the necessary precautions and seek to increase our immunity rather than let ourselves be overcome by fear. “
Santosh, a student, says the virus is now “part of our lives”. “You can’t shut down all businesses because you can’t let the economy collapse. […] COVID-19 will not pay the rent, ”he told AFP.