India: Lockdown Eased Despite Surge of Cases in Capital

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With shopping malls, places of worship, restaurants and state borders reopening Monday, some of the last vestiges of India’s 10-week-long coronavirus lockdown disappeared even as the country reported its highest single-day death toll and experts said things would get worse.

With cases doubling every two weeks, “we will require 15,000 beds by the end of June,” the committee’s head, Dr. Mahesh Verma, wrote to the government.

About a quarter of New Delhi’s 83 hospitals treating COVID-19 patients were full by Monday afternoon, according to a government-run online dashboard. About half of the city’s 512 available ventilators were in use.

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The numbers have crossed 28,000 in the capital, stretching limited health resources.
Over the weekend, New Delhi’s top official, chief minister Arvid Kerjiwal, said hospital beds would be limited to city residents, amid rising demand from people in the neighboring corporate hubs of Noida in the state of Uttar Pradesh and Gurugram in Haryana state.

India’s lockdown — one of the world’s most stringent — was considered mostly effective in staunching the spread of the virus. Most industry shut down, and a stay-at-home order was imposed for all but a handful of essential activities.

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But in recent weeks, as restrictions have gradually eased to help India’s ailing economy and get millions of poor daily wage earners back to work, cases have soared nationwide.

The Health Ministry reported another 9,983 cases Monday, raising India’s count past 256,000 to fifth most in the world. It also reported 206 fatalities, the highest single-day rise, bringing the country’s death toll to 7,135. Like elsewhere in the world, the actual numbers are thought to be higher for a number of reasons, including limited testing.

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