Police officials punish the people who break the restrictions for COVID-19 in Gauhati, India
Prime Minister Narendra Modi sounded the alarm Friday over the rapid spread of COVID-19 through India’s vast countryside, as 4,000 people died from the virus for the third straight day and total infections crossed 24 million.
India is in the grip of the highly transmissible B.1.617 variant of the coronavirus, first detected there and now appearing across the globe. Modi said his government was “on a war footing” to try to contain it.
“The outbreak is reaching rural areas with great speed,” he said, addressing farmers in a virtual conference. “I want to once again warn all … those who live in villages about corona.”
Although about two-thirds of Indians live in rural towns and villages where health care facilities are limited, it was the first time Modi has specifically referred to the virus’s spread through the countryside since a second wave erupted in February.
“All departments of the government, all resources, our armed forces, our scientists, everyone is working day and night to counter COVID, together,” he said.
Eid festivities celebrated by India’s about 200 million Muslims to mark the end of Ramadan were generally subdued Friday. Most states have imposed full or partial lockdowns, and many mosques were either shut or following social distancing measures during prayers.