India reported more than 300,000 new cases of coronavirus on Monday for the 12th consecutive day, bringing its overall caseload to just under 20 million, while deaths from COVID-19 increased by 3,417.
With 368,147 new cases in the past 24 hours, the total number of infections in India stands at 19.93 million, while the total number of deaths is 218,959, according to data from the Ministry of Health.
Medical experts say the actual numbers across the country of 1.35 billion could be five to ten times higher than the official tally.
Hospitals have filled to capacity, medical oxygen supplies are depleted and morgues and crematoriums have been flooded as the country grapples with soaring cases.
At least 11 states and union territories have imposed some form of restrictions in an attempt to stem infections, but Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government is reluctant to impose a nationwide lockdown, concerned about the economic impact.
“In my opinion, only a national home support order and declaration of a medical emergency will help meet current health needs,” said Bhramar Mukherjee, epidemiologist at the University of Michigan, on Twitter.
“The number of active cases is piling up, not just new daily cases. Even the reported figures indicate that there are around 3.5 million active cases. “
The peak of infections is the biggest crisis in India since Modi took office in 2014. Modi has been criticized for failing to take action earlier to curb the spread and for letting millions of people largely unmasked attend to religious festivals and crowded political rallies in five states in March and April. .
A government-set up forum of science advisers warned Indian officials in early March of a new, more contagious variant of the coronavirus taking hold in the country, five scientists who are part of the forum told Reuters.
Despite the warning, four of the scientists said the federal government was not looking to impose major restrictions to stop the spread of the virus. Read more
It remains to be seen how his handling of the crisis could affect Modi or his party politically. The next general election is scheduled for 2024. Modi’s party was defeated in the Indian state of West Bengal in the results announced on Sunday, although it won in the neighboring state of Assam.
Leaders of 13 opposition parties on Sunday signed a letter urging Modi to immediately launch free national vaccination and prioritize the supply of oxygen to hospitals and health centers.
Several states have postponed expanding an adult vaccination campaign that was due to start on Saturday due to a lack of vaccines. The national health ministry said states have 10 million vaccines in stock and 2 million more to come in the next three days.
Despite being the world’s largest vaccine producer, India does not have enough for itself – undermining a plan to increase and expand immunization from Saturday. Only about 9% of its 1.4 billion people received a dose.
India has struggled to increase its capacity beyond 80 million doses per month due to lack of raw materials and a fire at the Serum Institute, which makes the AstraZeneca vaccine.
International aid is pouring into India.
Britain will send another 1,000 ventilators to India, the government said on Sunday. Prime ministers Boris Johnson and Modi are scheduled for talks on Tuesday.
The Indian variant COVID-19 has now reached at least 17 countries, including Britain, Switzerland and Iran, leading several governments to close their borders to people coming from India.
Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.