Many Indian states eased coronavirus restrictions on Monday, including the capital Delhi, where authorities allowed all stores and malls to open, as the number of new infections fell to low on more than two months.
Experts have warned of a full reopening, as India has only vaccinated around 5% of its estimated 950 million adults with the two doses needed, leaving millions vulnerable.
Infections peaked in India in May with around 400,000 new cases per day, but fell to 70,421 new infections reported on Monday, the smallest daily increase since March 31, according to data from the Ministry of Health.
The number of deaths increased by 3,921, according to the data.
India has recorded the second highest number of COVID-19 infections in the world after the United States, with 29.51 million cases and 374,305 deaths, according to ministry data.
Authorities in Delhi allowed all stores and malls to reopen, although bars, gyms, lounges, cinemas and parks remained closed.
The city’s chief minister, Arvind Kejriwal, said markets and restaurants will be carefully monitored this week.
“If we see coronavirus cases on the rise, we will need to reimpose strict restrictions,” Kejriwal said in a televised address on Sunday.
Delhi hospitals had struggled to provide oxygen cylinders and beds to patients last month as infections soared, but earlier this month the city allowed companies to bring back 50% of employees and they have partially resumed public transport.
In the southern state of Tamil Nadu, known for making automobiles, some companies have been allowed to bring back 50% of employees, and liquor lounges and shops have reopened. Bus services remained suspended until June 21.
In Bengaluru, the capital of neighboring Karnataka state and a major tech hub, traffic returned to the streets as authorities allowed businesses to partially reopen despite strict night and weekend curfews. remained in place.
The pressure to resume some economic activity has increased as millions of people depend on daily wages to pay for food and rent.
“India must reopen because the challenge of maintaining the right balance between life and livelihood is very crucial,” said Rajib Dasgupta, head of the Center for Social Medicine and Community Health at Jawaharlal Nehru University of New York. Delhi.
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