NEW DELHI: New COVID-19 infections in Indian cities such as capital New Delhi and Mumbai could peak next week after rising rapidly, experts said on Thursday (Jan 13), as the country reported the highest number of daily cases since late May.
The 247,417 new infections were more than 30 times higher than daily cases from a month ago, rising as the more transmissible Omicron variant replaced Delta across the country. Total infections reached 36.32 million, behind only the United States.
“Our modelling, and those of others, suggests that the big Indian cities should see their peaks in cases close to Jan 20, while the overall peak in India may be shifted a bit later, to early February,” said Gautam Menon, professor of physics and biology at Ashoka University near the capital.
Mumbai recorded a high of 20,971 infections last Friday but cases have been coming down since. City officials said the rate of infection was also coming down, with nearly 80 per cent of COVID-19 hospital beds vacant.
Delhi reported more than 27,500 infections on Wednesday, close to its all-time high, and its health minister told local media this week infections could start coming down in a few days.
Federal and state health officials say a majority of the infections in the ongoing third wave have been mild, with fewer hospitalisations and deaths than the previous surge in April and May that killed hundreds of thousands of people.
The health ministry has said common pain relievers like paracetamol should be enough for people with mild fever due to COVID-19. It has warned, though, against complacency as infections have now started rising in as many as 300 districts from fewer than 80 a week ago.