India today saw another record increase in new coronavirus cases with 16,922 fresh infections and announced that all of New Delhi’s 29 million residents will have health checks.
Officials will go door-to-door throughout the city’s affluent apartment complexes and its vast slums to test every citizen and take records of any symptoms.
The exercise will be completed by July 6, according to a plan issued by the government of New Delhi, the worst-hit city in the country with 70,390 confirmed cases.
Although India has now a total of 473,105 infections, its number of deaths – rising by 418 on Thursday – remains relatively low, with total fatalities at 14,894.
Relatives pay their last respects to a person who died due to the coronavirus disease at a crematorium in New Delhi, India, on Wednesday
Police will be deployed to enforce physical distancing and prevent the mixing of the population inside more than 200 containment zones in the capital, where large clusters of cases have been confirmed. CCTV or drone monitoring will also be used.
Police will have to ensure strict perimeter control and ‘absolute restriction of outward and inward movement of the population,’ the city government said.
New Delhi’s government has projected that cases in the capital area alone could expand to more than half a million by late July, and is considering taking over luxury hotels and stadiums to convert into field hospitals.
Armed forces personnel are providing medical care and attention to coronavirus patients kept in railroad coaches that have been turned into medical wards at nine locations in the capital.
The Health Ministry said it has ramped up testing to more than 200,000 per day across the country, raising the total number of samples tested so far to nearly 7.3 million.
With cases expected to keep rising the army has been being drafted in to help treat victims, including staffing a new 10,000-bed hospital in the capital.
New Delhi officials estimate it will have 550,000 COVID-19 cases by the end of July, and will require 150,000 beds by then.
India now has the fourth-highest coronavirus case total in the world, behind only the US, Brazil and Russia (pictured, a coronavirus victim is taken to be burned in New Delhi)
India has a total of 14,467 deaths from the virus, still far behind European countries such as the UK, France, Spain and Italy, but is gaining on them rapidly
Delhi’s Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia said that a new federal government order to take every positive patient to an assessment centre as opposed to evaluating them at home was stretching already limited resources.
‘Our ambulance system, our medical system is under pressure now. Today, we are having to take patients in buses,’ Sisodia said. ‘This (rule) is creating chaos in New Delhi.’
The western state of Maharashtra remains the most-affected in India, accounting for 139,010 cases – around a third of the total.
Another 6,531 people have died in the state, almost half of India’s total.
New Delhi has drafted in the army to help treat its growing number of coronavirus patients, including opening a 10,000-bed hospital
The hospital is being built inside a religious centre in the capital and is due to open next week, almost doubling New Delhi’s coronavirus bed capacity
India went into country-wide lockdown of its 1.4 billion population on March 24, which remains the largest lockdown applied during the pandemic to date.
The lockdown was announced with little warning, causing chaos in large cities with millions of migrant workers scrambling to find a way home.
Measures have been credited with helping slow down the growth of the virus, but have failed to squash the peak of infections as they did in Europe.
Faced with a huge spike in unemployment and a tanking economy, the government began a phased reopening of the country on June 8.
India now has the fourth-highest number of coronavirus cases anywhere in the world, having leap-frogged Britain’s total on June 12.
However, India’s cases per million remain below the figures of the UK, Belgium and the United States.
The US still has the most cases in the world at 2.3million, followed by Brazil with 1.1million and Russia with 606,043.