India’s top court slams states for COVID surge

Supreme Court warns the situation could worsen further as it seeks status reports from Delhi, Gujarat, Maharashtra and Assam states.

India is currently the world's second-worst-hit country by the pandemic after the US, with more than 9.1 million infections, including 133,738 deaths [File: Rupak De Chowdhuri/Reuters]

India’s Supreme Court has excoriated regional governments, including Delhi’s, over the surge in COVID-19 cases and warned the situation could worsen further if authorities did not effectively deal with the pandemic.

The court, which took up the issue on its own, is seeking status reports from New Delhi, Gujarat, Maharashtra and Assam, which have recorded a spike in cases, about the management of patients and steps taken to ease the situation.

“We are hearing of a huge spike in the current month. We want a latest status report from all states. Worse things may happen in December if states aren’t well prepared,” the three-judge bench said, according to broadcaster NDTV.

The judges were particularly concerned about Delhi, which has been topping India in the number of infections and deaths.

“What extra efforts are you taking? … Delhi has to answer a lot of things,” the judges told Delhi government lawyers in court.

India is currently the world’s second-worst-hit country by the pandemic after the US, with more than 9.1 million infections, including 133,738 deaths.

The South Asian country reported 44,059 cases and 551 deaths in the last 24 hours, according to the federal health ministry.

More furnaces and pyres were being made available at the main cremation facility in Delhi, which reported 6,746 cases and 121 deaths on Monday.

Last week, the federal government said it would airlift doctors from other regions to the capital and nearly double the current testing numbers of 60,000 to fight the spread of the virus. It also said it would increase the number of ICU beds in the city that has seen nearly 7,000 cases each day for the past several weeks.

The capital city’s government has urged people to follow COVID-19 guidelines as it said the city was witnessing the third wave of the virus that has killed more than a million people worldwide.

The western state of Gujarat was also slammed by the court, which was unhappy that the administration had allowed processions and political events in recent weeks.

Gujarat has also seen a spike in cases, forcing authorities to impose a nighttime curfew in cities like Ahmedabad, Rajkot, Surat and Vadodara.

Experts have attributed the surge to the festive season, dangerous pollution levels and dip in temperatures.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies