By Vatican News staff reporter
Over the last number of weeks India has endured a devastating second wave of Covid-19 infections, bringing the death toll to over 320 thousand.
However, there was room for optimism on Saturday as the country reported its lowest daily rise in 45 days.
India officially recorded 173,790 new cases during the previous 24 hours, with a further 3,617 deaths.
Health Ministry data showed that the nation’s rate of infections now stands at 27.7 million.
US and India united in confronting pandemic
Amid this downward trend, US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, said on Friday the United States and India are united in confronting the Covid-19 pandemic together, and Washington is determined to help India with its coronavirus crisis.
India’s Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, who is currently in the United States, told reporters while standing with Blinken at a State Department meeting that India is grateful to Washington for strong support and solidarity.
Only about 3% of India's 1.3 billion people have been fully vaccinated, the lowest rate among the 10 countries with the most cases.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government has faced mounting criticism for its failure to secure Covid-19 vaccines for its people, despite the fact that India is one of the world's biggest producers of vaccines.
Indian officials have said Jaishankar has been seeking supplies while in the US.
Meanwhile, in Australia, the state of Victoria recorded five new local Covid-19 cases on Saturday amid a strict lockdown.
Infections have now risen to 35, but it’s feared the number could be as many as 150.
Victoria went into the week-long lockdown on Thursday night, forcing residents to remain at home.
The outbreak was caused by a traveller who left hotel quarantine in South Australia state after testing negative but later tested positive in Melbourne.
This week, Victoria became the first state in Australia to administer more than 40,000 jabs in a day.
Elsewhere in Australia, police arrested 14 people on Saturday at various anti-lockdown and vaccination protests across Melbourne.
The country has reported zero local cases for 94 days this year, while numbers have stayed in the low single digits in general.