India is easing lockdown in several states after COVID case levels dropped to their lowest in two months.
The Delhi metro, which serves the city and surrounding areas, has reopened at 50% capacity, but Mumbai’s state rail network remains closed.
But on Monday, the number of new COVID cases was the lowest it has been for two months – with 100,636 reported in the past 24 hours.
Despite recorded infections steadily declining, experts fear the virus is spreading unchecked through India’s rural areas – where the majority of its people live.
India is still second to the US in terms of total cases globally – with almost 29 million – but a lack of testing facilities and hospital capacity mean that figure is thought to be a vast underestimate.
The country’s health ministry said 2,427 new deaths were registered in the latest 24-hour period, taking the total to 349,186.
So far 222 million COVID-19 jabs have been given out across India – with less than 5% of India’s 1.39 billion population fully vaccinated.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi is under mounting pressure to speed up the rollout and was due to address the nation for the first time since April on Monday.
India has just ordered 300 million doses of an unlicensed vaccine made by an Indian company called Biological E.
The jab is still in phase three trials, but previous ones have shown encouraging results.
The Delta variant, a double mutation of the virus that originated in India, has left health systems overwhelmed.
Politicians have been under pressure to the save the economy, with New Delhi’s chief minister Arvind Kejriwal saying on Monday: “Now the corona situation is under control. The economy must be brought back on track.”
But other states are being more cautious, with the southern states of Jammu and Kashmir and Tamil Nadu extending their lockdowns for at least another week.