Nearly two years after India went into the world’s biggest lockdown to slow the spread of COVID-19, students are heading back to school across the vast country – a sign of normal life resuming as infection rates fall.
India’s daily coronavirus infections rose by less than 10,000 for a third straight day on Wednesday, a level last seen in late December before the rapid spread of the Omicron variant, data from the health ministry showed.
Last week, Maharashtra State Minister Aaditya Thackeray said schools in the state’s largest city, Mumbai, would resume pre-COVID attendance, reinstating all activities in view of declining cases.
India has fully vaccinated more than 765 million of its 940 million adult population and about 28 million teenagers aged 15-18, but has not started vaccinating children younger than 15.
In Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s home state of Gujarat, markets were back in full swing after a long hiatus.
Patrons streamed in to enjoy dinner and late-night snacks following the lifting of a curfew last week at Ahmedabad’s popular Manek Chowk, a market that transforms into a hawker centre after dusk.
Similar signs of life resuming its normal pace abound across the country.
Roads and trains are congested again as people return to offices, movie theatres are reporting a surge in foot traffic, and restaurants and gaming parlours are packed.