India’s capital, New Delhi, will begin easing its strict coronavirus blockade next week if its new cases continue to fall.
The South Asian country on Sunday reported 240,842 new infections nationwide for 24 hours (the lowest daily figure in more than a month) and 3,741 deaths.
For weeks, India has been battling a devastating second wave of COVID-19 that has paralyzed its health system and caused a shortage of oxygen supply.
New Delhi, one of the hardest hit cities, closed on April 20, but new cases have slowed in recent weeks and the test positivity rate has fallen below 2.5%, compared to 36% last month, said Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal.
“If the cases continue to fall for a week, we will start the unlocking process from May 31,” Kejriwal said at a press conference.
Delhi reported 1,600 new cases of COVID-19 in the previous 24 hours, he said.
Many states remain closed, raising concerns about the economic impact of the pandemic.
The head of the state-led Indian Medical Research Council said this month that districts with a high infection rate should remain closed for six to eight weeks to break the transmission chain.
Daily cases of COVID-19 in India decrease after peak intensity on 9 May. The government said on Sunday that it is conducting the highest number of COVID-19 tests, with more than 2.1 million samples tested in the previous 24 hours.
However, health experts have warned that India could face a third wave of infections in the coming months and many states cannot vaccinate children under 45 due to shortage of supplies.
The world’s largest vaccine-producing nation has completely vaccinated just over 41.6 million people with the doses administered, or just 3.8 percent of its population of 1.35 billion.