| 21 February 2024, Wednesday |

India re-opens major cities as new COVID-19 infections hit 2-mth low

Major Indian cities re-opened for business on Monday, with long queues for buses in the financial hub of Mumbai while traffic returned to the roads of New Delhi after a second wave of COVID-19 that claimed hundreds of thousands of lives.

The 100,636 new coronavirus cases over the past 24 hours were the lowest in the world’s second most populous nation since April 6, and well off last month’s peaks of over 400,000, allowing authorities to re-open parts of the economic sector.

Delhi’s Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal wrote on Twitter: “We have to save ourselves from infection but also bring the economy back on track.”

Kejriwal ordered half the capital’s shops to open on odd and even numbered days of the month respectively, in order to limit crowds, but allowed offices and the Delhi underground rail network to run at 50% of capacity.

Yet some restrictions remained, such as the ban on dining in restaurants and the use of gyms and theaters in a city still slowly recovering from a spike in the months of April and May that strained hospitals.

They ran short of medical oxygen and beds, and people died in hospital parking lots and homes, while morgues and crematoriums struggled to cope with a continuous flow of corpses.

The country added 2,427 fatalities overnight for a toll of 349,186, the health ministry reported, down from over 4,000 each day at the height of the crisis, while its tally of infections now stands at 28.9 million.

  • Reuters