Army called in as Covid-19 cases surge

India reported 16,000 new coronavirus cases on Wednesday, its highest daily increase since the outbreak began, and the government called in the army to manage new treatment centres with thousands of additional hospital beds in New Delhi.

With more than 456,000 confirmed coronavirus cases, India is the fourth worst-hit country in the world, behind the United States, Brazil and Russia.

Cases are expected to keep rising as state governments ease restrictions in place since lockdown was imposed in late March.

New Delhi, the sprawling capital of more than 20 million people, also recorded its highest single-day increase on Wednesday, with more than 3,900 cases.

Local government data showed that of the 13,400 beds allocated to Covid-19 patients in the city, around 6,200 were occupied.

The federal home ministry said the city would have around 20,000 additional beds available by next week at temporary facilities run by army doctors and nurses.

These include a 10,000-bed facility hosted at a religious centre and railway coaches turned into wards.

"Armed forces personnel have been detailed for providing medical care and attention to Covid-19 patients housed in the railway coaches in Delhi," Home Minister Amit Shah said.

The city government estimates it will have 550,000 Covid-19 cases by the end of July and will require 150,000 beds by then.

Delhi's Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia said that a new central government order to take every Covid-positive patient to an assessment centre as opposed to evaluating them at home was stretching already limited resources.

"Our ambulance system, our medical system, is under pressure now. Today, we are having to take patients in buses," Mr Sisodia said, adding that he had written to the central home ministry. "This (rule) is creating chaos in New Delhi."

In Chennai, police were working overtime after the city imposed an "intensified lockdown" from last Friday to the end of this month to deal with the rapid spread of Covid-19.

Only pharmacies and hospitals are allowed to operate, while offices, shops, markets, restaurants and even petrol stations are closed.

Residents are banned from driving but can walk to nearby stores that open briefly in the morning.

Tamil Nadu has seen the third-highest number of Covid-positive cases in India, following Maharashtra and Delhi. The 67,468 infections recorded by Wednesday means the southern state has almost as many cases as Delhi. More than 860 people have died. Chennai accounts for almost 70 per cent of the cases and 80 per cent of the deaths.

So, even as the rest of India relaxes restrictions, Tamil Nadu announced a second, stricter lockdown for Chennai and neighbouring Chengelpet, Kancheepuram and Tiruvallur districts.

Ramped up policing and increased checkposts have ensured that people are off the roads in Chennai.

Many citizen volunteers are now collaborating with the government to battle the pandemic.

The Chennai city corporation is trying to ramp up testing and disease surveillance. More than 250 medically-equipped vehicles are screening people in suburban Chennai, particularly the badly affected zones, for coronavirus symptoms.

The state government has been criticised for mismanaging the outbreak, with deaths under-reported in May, a lack of testing and poor contact tracing.

Without adequate masks and personal protective equipment, many doctors and nurses have been infected.

Chennai residents hope the second lockdown is a second chance to do it right this time.

"Whether it's loss of trust in government or desperation, there is now a spirit of collaboration among Chennai people. We just have to look out for ourselves," said Ms Vaishnavi Jayakumar, who co-founded The Banyan, a non-profit organisation.

Reuters, Indo-Asian News Service


அதற்குள்ளாகவா? இந்தச் செய்திகளையும் படிக்கலாமே!

இந்தச் செய்திகளையும் படிக்கலாமே!