COVID-19: India ‘will face trouble’ if action not taken to stem latest coronavirus wave, PM Modi warns

India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi has warned “we will face trouble” if immediate action is not taken to prevent a new surge of coronavirus cases from getting out of control.

Mr Modi has urged all chief ministers of the country’s states to take quick and decisive steps to stop the second peak of COVID-19 as the number of nationwide infections reached 11.44 million.

He said: “If we do not stop the pandemic right now, then there will be a nationwide break. We have to take immediate steps to stop the emerging second peak. Or else we will face trouble.”

In the last 24 hours, India has registered 28,903 new cases – the highest daily number since September.

In the same period, 188 people died, which took the total number of deaths to 161,502 – the third highest global tally behind the US and Brazil.

More than 11 million people have recovered from the disease and the mortality rate is less than 2%, while tens of millions have had at least one vaccine dose thus far.

However, India’s huge population of more than 1.3bn demands the rollout reach an even greater speed and scale than other nations.

Meanwhile, doctors in the country have been warning of a second wave due to a lack of precautionary measures and because of complacency.

People have stopped wearing masks in large numbers, markets and restaurants have re-opened, and the festival season attracted large gatherings – somewhat undermining the vaccine rollout.

Dr Rommel Tickoo, of Max Healthcare, said: “This is happening because people have become complacent and are not following any COVID-appropriate behaviour.

“They think COVID is dead and gone, there are public gatherings, weddings where people can be seen not even wearing a mask. People who have been vaccinated have also become careless.

“Maharashtra is already facing a second wave. The need of the hour is to ramp up the vaccination drive further.”

According to the Indian health ministry, 60% of all new cases have come from the western state of Maharashtra.

Several districts and cities in Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Punjab have been put in complete or partial lockdown, while some have introduced curfews.

Mini containment zones could be imposed in places where clusters of cases are found.

Since October, the number of cases in India saw a steady drop in a trend which puzzled scientists and experts.

From close to 100,000 daily cases in September, the numbers fell to under 15,000 in February.

Over 35 million people have been vaccinated with a single dose, while 6.2 million have been given their second dose, covering just 0.45% of the population.

The government has been criticised for the initial slow pace of the vaccination, which has now picked up.

Mr Modi also spoke about curtailing wastage of the vaccines by states, warning that “if the pandemic spreads to rural India, our resources will fall short”.

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