Tuesday evening, more than 1.5 million corona infections were registered in India, the English-language daily reported The Hindu. The day before, politicians, experts and the media had raised the alarm. With 49,931 new infections within 24 hours from Sunday to Monday, the spread has reached a pace that even exceeded the situation in the US and Brazil hotspots.
The minimal decrease in comparison – 47,703 infections were recorded on Tuesday and around 48,000 on Wednesday – can hardly be reassuring given Monday’s record. The government subsequently tried. In the federal capital of New Delhi, the number of new infections fell by 40 percent after Monday. With regard to the rest of the country, however, the overall situation remains critical, especially since the official information is only a section of reality.
For the first time, more than 500,000 tests were carried out in the country last Sunday. However, this is measured against a total population of 1.4 billion and a rather low rate in global comparison. Every tenth test tends to be positive. Given this, India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi had three more test centers opened this week. The fact that the Hindu nationalist government is increasingly losing control of the spread of viruses can do little to change this.
At the end of March, Modi had a tightened lockdown ordered overnight – without any possibility of individual preparations. The rail and bus traffic in the country was completely stopped and everyday life reduced to an absolute minimum. As a protective measure, this was temporary and effective depending on the region, but by no means for all citizens. Not only the millions of migrant workers, but also local day laborers and others from the poorest were hit particularly hard by the restrictions. The emergency kitchens that were set up later and the orderly repatriation in home regions only helped to a limited extent, and even helped to spread the virus in the country.
Since the loosening of the national lockdown at the beginning of June, the federally organized country has become a real patchwork: there are Union states that maintain extensive restrictions across the board, while others offer a high degree of freedom of movement. A third group has quarantined individual districts or is pursuing a restricted lockdown strategy – two days a week or generally at the weekend.
In any case, the number of infections rose considerably. Between June 27 (508,000) and July 27 alone, the number of cases almost tripled. The state of Maharashtra, in which the economic metropolis of Mumbai is located, is at the top with 375,000 cases in regional comparison. Other hotspots are the two southern states Tamil Nadu and Karnataka and Modi’s hometown Surat in the western state of Gujarat. It was mainly employees in the diamond industry who got infected there.
There is another crisis in northeastern India: Over 3,000 villages in 26 districts in the Union state of Assam are still under water due to the heavy monsoon rains of July 20. 3.8 million people are affected by the consequences there alone, over 50,000 persevere in emergency shelters. The situation is no better in the state of Bihar, which is considered the poorest country in the country. About one million people in ten districts are affected by the floods there. Evacuation operations and cramped emergency aid stations make it impossible to comply with corona clearance rules or other protective measures. There is great concern that, due to the location, the virus could spread more widely.