Cold weather and pollution push up the number of COVID-19 cases in India

New Delhi is facing a spike in cases, 8,500 yesterday alone, for a total of 450,000 so far, with 85 deaths in one day (7,000 in total). Hospitals have a reached a breaking point. Restrictions like a ban on fireworks have been imposed for Diwali. Keeping a future vaccine at minus 80 degrees is a problem.

Delhi (AsiaNews/Agencies) – India’s capital of New Delhi is battling a surge in coronavirus cases. Experts blame cold weather and higher levels of pollution for the sudden jump.

Meanwhile, Pfizer announced that it is near a breakthrough in developing a possible vaccine. If this happens, India’s main concern will be how to store the vaccine, a process that requires extremely low temperatures.

Yesterday, the city reported 8,500 new cases, the highest number since the beginning of the pandemic with 85 deaths, bringing the total above 7,000.

After a relatively calm summer, the recent spike has increased pressure on hospitals, where more than half of the available beds are already occupied.

In view of the situation, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal wrote to the Union (federal) government, asking for more beds at government hospitals because of the higher number of cases.

India’s COVID-19 emergency is greatest in the capital, which has reported so far up to 450,000 cases, with some 42,000 still active.

In addition to pollution and lower temperatures, the upcoming Diwali festival could be a major virus spreader.

To avoid this, the authorities have banned fireworks to further degrade the city’s air quality, and taken a more proactive approach to enforcing tight mask and social distancing restrictions.

Meanwhile, after Pfizer announced that its experimental vaccine was more than 90 per cent effective, Indian health authorities have expressed concerns about how to stock it.

The new vaccine requires storage at minus 80 degrees, like in Antarctica, a major challenge for a country where temperatures can reach 50 degrees.

“This is a new challenge to be urgently managed,” warns Toby Peters, a professor at Britain’s University of Birmingham, especially for countries in the world’s hot and humid regions.