India records over 20 million Covid-19 cases, opposition calls for national lockdown

Calls for a national lockdown have intensified.

Matthias Ang | May 05, 2021, 04:23 PM

Covid-19 cases have topped the 20 million mark in India.

According to ReutersIndia recorded 357,229 new cases on May 4, while deaths increased by 3,449 to 222,408.

This makes the country second only to the U.S. in the total number of Covid-19 infections.

Calls for national lockdown across the country intensify

As such, calls for a nationwide lockdown have since intensified.

The leader of the opposition Congress Party, Rahul Gandhi, highlighted that inaction on the government of India's (GOI) part was "killing many innocent people."

Gandhi also referred to NYAY, an abbreviation for the minimum income scheme he proposed for the poor citizens of India in 2019.

Business leaders have also joined the chorus, calling for the "strongest national steps" to be taken in addressing the surge of cases, the Financial Times further reported.

The current president of the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) and India's richest banker, Uday Kotak, was quoted as saying:

"We need to curtail non-essential economic activity and services for a very short while to break the chain. Essential services like oxygen, supply of medicine and food items have to continue."

His sentiment was echoed by the previous president of the CII, Naushad Forbes, who highlighted that there was no more economically productive work in various parts of the country, including the capital, as people are "doing nothing except keeping people safe or trying to get them medical attention."

Many businesses have since scaled down operations or stopped completely as a result of numerous staff and their families falling ill, and a shortage in industrial oxygen.

Some states have already imposed their own lockdown

Indian media Livemint reported that some states, such as Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, and Rajasthan, among others, as well as Delhi, have since imposed their own lockdowns, in a bid to curb the virus.

However, Modi's government is reluctant to do so, according to the BBC, over concerns of the potential economic fallout.

The previous lockdown in April 2020 also triggered a humanitarian crisis in which 10 million migrant workers were forced to flee the cities that they worked in, according to the BBC.

Reuters further reported that hospitals have been overwhelmed, with a shortage of oxygen supplies, and patients dying in ambulances and carparks.

Deaths could increase twofold in coming weeks

In addition, Covid-19 research models have projected a potential two-fold increase in the number of deaths in India in the coming weeks, Bloomberg further reported.

Public health researchers have voiced their concern about the shortage of Covid-19 testing, which is likely fuelling an undercounting of cases.

A professor of physics and biology at Ashoka University, who also works on modelling outbreaks, Gautam Menon, elaborated:

"There are reports of tests being considerably delayed and of patients delaying having to go to hospital as much as they can, given the stresses on the health system. We don’t know enough about COVID-19 spread away from the major cities, in the rural heartland of India, although reports from there suggest that the situation is dire."

A different note was struck by India's health ministry however, which stated on May 3, Monday, that around a dozen states were seeing early signs of new infections starting to plateau.

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Top image screenshot from YouTube