By Manas Mishra and Aishwarya Nair
BENGALURU (Reuters) – Some Indian states said on Sunday they will extend COVID-19 lockdowns to help contain the pandemic, which has killed more than 270,000 people in the country, as the federal government pledged to strengthen vaccine supplies.
The number of COVID-19 deaths in the past 24 hours in India increased by more than 4,000 for the fourth time in a week, and Sunday’s 311,170 new infections represent the lowest single-day increase in more than three weeks.
However, federal health authorities warned against any complacency to a “stagnation” in the rise of infections and urged states to add intensive care units and strengthen their medical workforce.
The northern states of Delhi and Haryana extended the lockdowns for a week, which were due to end on Monday.
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said the rate of positive cases compared to the general tests carried out had dropped to 10% from 30% at the beginning of the month.
“We don’t want to lose the progress we have made over the past week, so we are going to extend the lockdown for another week,” Kejriwal told reporters.
The southern state of Kerala, which previously announced an extension of the lockdown, also introduced stricter restrictions in some districts on Saturday. He warned that people who do not wear masks when necessary or who violate quarantine protocols could be arrested, with drones used to help identify violators.
The government said it will ship an additional 5.1 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines to states over the next three days.
Although India is the world’s largest producer of vaccines, only 141.6 million people have received at least one dose, or about 10% of its population of 1.35 billion, according to data from the Health Ministry.
The country has fully vaccinated just over 40.4 million people, or 2.9% of its population.
(Report by Manas Mishra in Bengaluru and Aishwarya Nair in Mumbai; edited in Spanish by Carlos Serrano)