India on Friday reported 44,643 new coronavirus cases, taking the country’s tally to 3,18,56,757 since the pandemic broke out in January last year, data from the health ministry showed. The new cases are nearly 4% higher than Thursday’s count of 42,982.

The country has recorded an average of 30,000 to 40,000 infections everyday since July, dropping from a high of 4 lakh daily cases at the peak of the devastating second wave of the pandemic in May. The Centre has repeatedly warned the danger was not over yet.

The toll on Friday rose by 464 to 4,26,754. The active caseload increased to 4,14,159. As many as 3,10,15,844 patients have recovered from the disease so far.

Delhi Health Minister Satyendar Jain said that the government was preparing for the worst-case scenario amid fears of a third wave of the coronavirus pandemic.

Between April and May, Delhi witnessed a tsunami of Covid-19 infections. Reports flooded the media of patients running from pillar to post in search of hospital beds and oxygen cylinders as several hospitals reported shortages. Some hospitals in the national capital even approached the courts for help as their oxygen supplies ran out.

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Thursday discussed India’s coronavirus management with Nobel laureate Abhijit Banerjee, PTI reported. “The entire process of distribution of the vaccines has been centralised,” the chief minister said. “We do not have the power to procure the vaccines from the market because the central government does not allow it.”

Abhijit Banerjee, who is a member of West Bengal’s Covid management committee, said that the Centre is not capable of generating the supply of vaccines needed for the whole country. “We have not received the promised level of supply for the entire nation,” the economist said, ANI reported.

Meanwhile, Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray said the state government was thinking about resuming suburban train services in Mumbai for all commuters. The financial capital of the country has been reporting less than 500 coronavirus cases daily for the last three weeks.

But, Maharashtra is still reporting the second-highest caseload in the country, behind Kerala. “Relaxation of coronavirus restrictions would be given where ever it is possible,” Thackeray said.

Global updates

The World Health Organization, in its latest latest weekly epidemiological update on Covid-19, said that Delta variant of the infection has now been detected in 135 countries. The highly transmissible strain, first detected in India, has led to a surge in cases in several countries.

The United States reported more than a lakh cases on Wednesday, while China reimposed certain restrictions to tackle its worst outbreak since January.

Moderna said its Covid-19 vaccine remains 93% effective six months after the second dose, not much change from the 94% efficacy reported in November after its original clinical trial. It also reiterated its belief that a third dose of the Covid-19 vaccine as a booster shot will be necessary later this year as antibody levels are expected to wane.

Globally, Covid-19 has infected more than 20 crore people and caused 42.61 lakh deaths since the pandemic broke out in December 2019, according to Johns Hopkins University.