Hit with Second Wave, India Becomes COVID-19 Hotspot  

India has become the global hotspot for the COVID-19 pandemic, counting the world’s highest numbers of daily new infections in recent days as it grapples with a second wave of the pandemic weeks after witnessing a dramatic decline.   The impact of the swift surge in the virus, in the world’s biggest vaccine maker, will be felt far beyond its shores as India slows vaccine shipments to other countries.     Health experts blame many people in the vast populous country for virtually abandoning COVID protocols as cases tumbled earlier this year.     Sorry, but your browser cannot support embedded video of this type, you can
People walk at a crowded market amidst the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in the old quarters of Delhi, India, Apr. 6, 2021.India is unlikely to impose a national lockdown that extracted a huge economic cost, but worst affected areas in the country are reimposing restrictions. The western state of Maharashtra, the country’s most economically developed state, is the epicenter of the new wave reporting nearly 60% of the country’s cases. Its capital, Mumbai, reimposed a partial lockdown this week shutting down shops, restaurants and monuments and ordering a complete shutdown on weekends. The Indian capital, New Delhi has imposed a night curfew.  In cities that had resumed normal life, the millions who had returned to their casual jobs are worried. “I really hope there is no strict lockdown again,” says Kavita Kamble who works as a cook in several homes in Mumbai. “Last year we had no work for six-seven months. We were all sitting at home. Only we know how we coped.”    To stem the rapid rise of infections, India has accelerated its immunization drive which began in January. After inoculating health care workers and senior citizens, health officials began targeting the younger age groups believed to be driving the rising numbers.    People sit in a waiting area to receive a dose of COVISHIELD, a coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine manufactured by Serum Institute of India, at a vaccination center in Ahmedabad, India, Apr. 2, 2021.”The pandemic isn’t over and there is no scope for complacency,” Health Minister Harsh Vardhan said on Twitter, urging people to get “vaccinated on your turn and follow COVID-appropriate behavior scrupulously!”  The #Pandemic isn’t over and there is no scope for complacency
On #WorldHealthDay2021 infuse greater zeal to #Unite2FightCorona, get vaccinated on your turn & follow COVID appropriate behaviour scrupulously! @PMOIndia@MoHFW_INDIA#LargestVaccineDrivehttps://t.co/KSqfJ1xriq
— Dr Harsh Vardhan (@drharshvardhan) FILE – Boxes of AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine manufactured by the Serum Institute of India and provided through the global COVAX initiative arrive at the airport in Mogadishu, Somalia, March 15, 2021.“I really want to deliberately hope that it is a delay, not a ban because that would be catastrophic if that was the case,” John Nkengasong, director of the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention told a news conference earlier this month in Addis Ababa. “Then meeting vaccination schedule becomes problematic, very, very problematic.”
India defended its decision pointing out that it had shipped vaccines to more than 80 countries.
“We have already stated that our external supplies would be done, keeping in mind our domestic requirements,” Arindam Bagchi, Indian Foreign Ministry spokesman, said recently at a press briefing. “At this time, I’m sure our partners understand that vaccines are primarily purposed for domestic consumption.” It has also clarified that there is no outright ban.    India’s own needs are huge. Although the more than 87 million jabs it has administered are among the largest in the world, they have reached less than 7% of the population.     The course of India’s second wave will be critical not just for the vast South Asian nation, but also for other countries waiting to get jabs into as many arms as possible.  

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