Coronavirus deaths in India have risen to a record 3,780 in the past 24 hours, a day after it became the second country to cross the grim milestone of 20 million infections after the United States.
Daily infections rose to 382,315 on Wednesday, according to data from the Department of Health. Government modeling had indicated a peak on Wednesday, a few days earlier than expected, as the virus spread faster than expected.
The outbreak of the highly infectious Indian variant of the coronavirus has seen hospitals run out of beds and oxygen and left mortuaries and crematoriums overflowing. Many people have died in ambulances and parking lots while waiting for a bed or oxygen.
Two “oxygen express” trains reached the capital Delhi on Wednesday carrying much-needed liquid oxygen, Railway Minister Piyush Goyal said on Twitter. To date, more than 25 trains have delivered oxygen to different parts of India.
The Indian government claims there is sufficient oxygen, but distribution has been hampered by transportation issues.
A bench of two Delhi High Court judges held videoconferences almost daily to hear hospital petitions asking for oxygen and invoking India’s constitutional right to the protection of life. Read more
The spike in infections in India has coincided with a dramatic drop in vaccinations due to supply and delivery issues.
At least three states, including Maharashtra, home to the commercial capital of Mumbai, have reported a vaccine shortage, closing some vaccination centers.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government has been widely criticized for failing to act sooner to suppress the second wave of the virus. Religious festivals and political rallies have drawn tens of thousands of people to super-broadcaster events.
“We need a government. Desperately. And we don’t have one. We are running out of air. We are dying… ”wrote Indian author Arundhati Roy in an opinion piece published Tuesday calling on Modi to resign.
“It is a crisis that you are creating. You cannot solve it. You can only make it worse … So go ahead. It is the most responsible thing for you to do. You have lost the moral right to be our Prime Minister. . ”
Indian opposition has called for a nationwide lockdown, but the government is reluctant to impose a shutdown for fear of economic fallout, despite several states having imposed social restrictions.
India’s central bank on Wednesday asked banks to allow some borrowers more time to repay their loans, as the spike in infections is impacting an emerging economic recovery. Read more
India has around 3.45 million active cases, but medical experts say the actual number of dead and infected could be five to 10 times higher. The country added 10 million cases in just over four months, after taking more than 10 months to reach the first 10 million.
Daily tests in India fell sharply to 1.5 million, the Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR) said on Wednesday. It peaked at 1.95 million on Saturday.
Public health experts believe India will not achieve collective immunity anytime soon, but say hospitalizations and deaths will drop dramatically in six to nine months, according to a report in The Economic Times.
Herd immunity occurs when a sufficiently high proportion of the population is vaccinated or has been infected and has developed antibodies that an infected person can theoretically infect less than one person, stopping the spread of the virus.
Cricket officials suspended the hugely popular and profitable Indian Premier League (IPL) on Tuesday as the pandemic spiraled out of control.
Eight Asian lions from an Indian zoo in the southern state of Hyderabad have contracted the coronavirus, the government said on Tuesday, adding that there was no evidence animals could transmit the disease to humans.
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