Complete lockdown in Indian city as Covid-19 cases surge in Maharashtra state
Indian health authorities will enforce a week-long lockdown starting Monday in the western city of Nagpur, in Maharashtra state. It has been labeled as a Covid hotspot following a surge in new cases.
“In recent days Nagpur has been reporting more cases than even Mumbai,” a health department official said, referring to Maharashtra’s state capital and the country's financial hub.
Nagpur has emerged as a hotspot with the seventh highest death toll for any city in India, reporting 1,828 new Covid-19 cases, followed by 1,709 in Mumbai by the latest count.
Officials said food, milk stores and essential services will stay open during the lockdown from Monday amid reports residents were crowding liquor shops to stock up for the next seven days.
Week-long Nagpur lockdown leads to panic-buying; 100s flock to Cotton Market, liquor shops https://t.co/W6W7PRFYwS— Republic (@republic) March 13, 2021
Government offices will work with skeletal staff but industries would be exempt.
Maharashtra’s Guardian Minister Nitin Raut warned residents would be punished if they break lockdown rules.
Last month, similar health restrictions were put in place for a week in Maharashtra’s Amaravati district.
A nationwide lockdown was enforced in March last year to try and stem the spread of the virus in India.
Shashank Joshi, a member of a Covid task force, said Maharashtra has asked federal authorities to speed up the vaccination drive in the state of 114 million people.
“What we have asked is to open the vaccination 24/7. Secondly, we have also asked from the centre to vaccinate people who are at home and can’t move out,” Joshi told a TV station.
A bubbling hotspot
Maharashtra is among seven states which account for 88 percent of new Covid-19 infections in India.
It reported 15,602 new infections which took Maharashtra’s tally to 2.2 million and put the local death toll at nearly 53,000, officials citing a latest tally said.
In national capital Delhi, V.K. Paul, who heads a federal panel of experts on Covid-19 vaccine administration, appeared worried.
“This is a serious matter,” he added, referring to Maharashtra, the country’s richest state which is governed by a coalition of two opposition parties.
The Indian Council of Medical Research, a national agency, blamed the surge on poor implementation of practices.
“It is just related to reduced testing, tracking and tracing and Covid inappropriate behaviour and large congregations," Council chief Balram Bhargava remarked.
Punjab, a northern state, has also imposed night curfew in eight districts of its 22 districts because of a similar spike.
National tally, high recovery
India reported 25,320 new Covid-19 cases in 24 hours to Sunday, the highest daily rise in 84 days, which took the total number of cases to over 11.3 million.
The virus has so far killed 158,607 people in India.
But the rate of recovery has been remarkably high at around 97 percent in India, which kicked off the world’s largest Covid-19 inoculation drive in January.
India’s enormous vaccine program
More than 29 million vaccine doses have been administered so far in India with a majority of the shots put into the arms of healthcare and frontline workers.
The elderly and people with ailments have now joined the drive’s second phase.
India has also gifted hundreds of thousands of doses of two vaccine brands it uses to 71 countries and dispatched large consignments to the Covax mechanism under the aegis of the Global Alliance for Vaccines.
India, the United States, Japan and Australia in a weekend summit committed to supply jointly up to a billion coronavirus vaccine doses across Asia by the end of 2022.
The shots will be manufactured in India, which accounts for 60 percent of the various vaccines globally used.
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