India imposes stricter rules to prevent the spread of COVID-19 during the holiday season

A woman reacts as a health worker takes a swab sample from her to test for coronavirus disease (COVID-19) at a train station in Ahmedabad, India on December 29, 2021. REUTERS / Amit Dave

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MUMBAI, December 30 (Reuters) – Indian authorities on Thursday began imposing strict rules to prevent mass gatherings at parties and public places ahead of New Year’s celebrations as the country spikes in COVID infections -19.

Nighttime curfews have been imposed in all major towns and restaurants to limit clientele, officials said.

However, state authorities were struggling to limit overcrowding at markets, religious sites and vacation destinations as they were allowed to remain open, officials said.

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The country has reported 13,154 new cases of COVID-19 and 268 deaths in the past 24 hours, the federal health ministry said, with urban centers reporting a big jump. This is the highest number of daily infections since October.

Cases of infection with the Omicron variant have risen to 961 across India.

Police in the financial capital Mumbai have banned public gatherings of five or more residents until Jan. 7, as they saw a sharp rise in the number of cases with 2,510 infections, the biggest daily increase since May, the officials said. local authorities.

“We see that the social gatherings are going on unrestricted with people flouting all social distancing standards… we are doing our best to control the spread of the virus,” said Rajesh Tope, the Minister of Health for the United States. Western state. of Maharashtra of which Mumbai is the capital.

Tope said the next 48 hours are critical for authorities to prevent an escalation of new cases of COVID-19.

Earlier this week, India ramped up vaccine distribution by approving Merck’s COVID-19 pill and two other vaccines for emergency use.

Asia’s third-largest economy has already said it will allow COVID-19 booster shots for part of its population.

Emergency approvals come at a time when action is being taken to increase the oxygen supply and hospital beds.

But an ongoing strike by thousands of young doctors against the government has increased pressure on fragile health infrastructure.

About 13,000 young doctors across the country are continuing their strike to protest the delays in admission to graduate school, said Dr Manish, president of the Federation of Resident Doctors Associations in India.

“We are continuing the agitation,” said Manish, who uses only one name. “If (COVID-19) cases are increasing, then how does the government plan to deal with the situation without these doctors in hospitals?

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Reporting by Chandini Monnappa in Bengaluru, Devjyot Ghosal, Manoj Kumar in New Delhi, Abhirup Roy in Mumbai, Sunil Kataria in Goa, Summit Khana in Ahmedabad, written by Rupam Jain, editing by Raju Gopalakrishnan

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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