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India warns states of worsening Covid-19 situation if rules ignored

NEW DELHI India warned yesterday that a breach of guidelines on testing and other measures to contain the coronavirus could worsen a recent spurt in infections in many states, particularly after it detected several variants.

Nearly a month after the health minister declared that Covid-19 had been contained, states such as Maharashtra in the west and Kerala in the south have reported a surge in cases, as reluctance grows over mask-wearing and social distancing norms.

India's tally of infections stands at around 11 million - it rose yesterday by 13,742 - health ministry data showed, while deaths rose by a two-week high of 104 to 156,567.

"Any laxity in implementing stringent measures to curb the spread, especially in view of new strains of virus... could compound the situation," the health ministry said.

India has confirmed the long-time presence of two mutant variants - N440K and E484Q - in addition to those first detected in Brazil, Britain and South Africa.

The ministry said that while cases in the states of Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Kerala, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Punjab, as well as the federal territory of Jammu and Kashmir, were rising, the proportion of high-accuracy RT-PCR tests was falling.

In the past week, a third of India's 36 states and union territories reported an average of more than 100 new cases each day, with Kerala and Maharashtra both reporting more than 4,000, in a trend experts link to the reopening of schools and suburban train services.

- REUTERS

WORLD