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India COVID cases skyrocket ahead of key state elections

Munawar Zaman
Press TV, New Delhi

Coronavirus cases driven by the new Omicron variant have skyrocketed in India, prompting the government to rapidly reinforce a series of restrictions such as night and weekend curfews, a cap on people traveling on public transport, closing down schools and cinemas, and a ban on large gatherings and work from home for private offices.

Families waiting outside the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), India’s top medical institute, say their loved ones are dying anyway due to lack of appropriate treatments and medical assistance.

The administration of Prime Minister Modi says it is confident and fully geared up to handle any situation in the wake of a new COVID-19 outburst which is largely driven by the Omicron variant. Health experts however, urge the government to halt the ongoing election campaigns which they say could spark another healthcare crisis in the country.

On Tuesday, the country recorded 168,000 new infections including 4400 cases of Omicron. Some 227 deaths were also reported based on official data. The overall COVID case tally has increased to around 35 million while the death count rose close to 480,000 and overall recoveries stand at 34.5 million.

The country has also administered around 1.52 vaccine doses till now. The health ministry has advised all states and the Union territories to ensure no lapse in battling the new surge considering the earlier waves that brought the country to brink, tearing apart the healthcare sector.

Despite alarming rise in fresh COVID cases, the political parties are busy with election rallies ahead of crucial state polls in five key Indian states of Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Uttrakhand, Goa and Manipur which begins February 10; rallies packed with thousands of people many without masks is making health experts worries. Rallies have been put on hold till January 15 after public outrage.

Over the last two weeks hospital admissions are rising and medical staff has been advised to cut their leaves. New Delhi, Maharashtra, Rajasthan and parts of southern India are reporting maximum cases including the new variant.

Earlier waves of the pandemic unfolded mayhem in the subcontinent, healthcare collapsed, people begged for oxygen and hospital beds. Graveyards and Crematoriums ran out of space.

Migrants lost their lives trying to reach home due to sudden lockdown. Health experts have warned people not to take the surge lightly and follow basic COVID guidelines they say the worse is yet to come.


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