INDIA’S coronavirus infections surged again on Wednesday (23), a day after falling to their lowest figure in almost a month, as leaders mourned the death of a central minister.
Junior railways minister Suresh Angadi died aged 65, after being hospitalised with coronavirus complications.
The Bharatiya Janata Party leader — the first Union minister to die of Covid-19 — from Karnataka had tested positive for the virus a month ago, and was asymptomatic initially.
Angadi had on September 11 announced on Twitter that he had contracted the virus.
The four-time MP from Belagavi had requested all those who came in close contact with him to monitor their health and get tested in case of any symptoms.
Subsequently, however, he developed complications and was admitted to the All India Institute of Medical Sciences in Delhi, where he passed away.
“Shri Suresh Angadi was an exceptional Karyakarta, who worked hard to make the Party strong in Karnataka,” Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Twitter. “He was a dedicated MP and effective Minister, admired across the spectrum. His demise is saddening. My thoughts are with his family and friends in this sad hour. Om Shanti.”
India, with a population of about 1.4 billion, has been consistently reporting the world’s highest daily tallies of infections, as it grapples with overstretched health services in the effort to control the pandemic.
Its 5.6 million coronavirus cases rank second only to the US, and more than 90,000 people have died.
In the last 24 hours, there were 83,347 new cases, with 1,085 deaths, federal health data showed.
Tuesday’s figure of 75,083 was the lowest since September 1, and Wednesday’s total is below the record 97,894 hit on September 17.
But experts say it is still too early to tell if the first wave of the pandemic in the country has peaked.
“A drop over only a few days may not be significant,” said Giridhara R Babu, an epidemiologist at the Public Health Foundation of India.
“We need to ensure that the increase in tests is sustained,” he said, adding that it would take at least another week to tell if cases in the country had really subsided.
India‘s parliament, which met for the first time in six months on September 14, is set to end its session on Wednesday, a week earlier than scheduled, after 30 lawmakers tested positive for the coronavirus.