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India posts record daily deaths, delegates test positive at G7 meet

Published : Thursday, 6 May, 2021 at 12:00 AM  Count : 326

NEW DELHI, May 5: India accounted for nearly half the coronavirus cases reported worldwide last week, the World Health Organization said on Wednesday, as COVID-19 deaths in the south Asian nation rose by a record 3,780 during the past 24 hours.
In a weekly report, the WHO said India accounted for 46% of global cases and a quarter of global deaths reported in the past week. Daily infections rose by 382,315 on Wednesday, health ministry data showed. The number has been in excess of 300,000 every day for the past two weeks.
Hospitals are scrabbling for beds and oxygen as they desperately battle a second deadly surge in infections, while morgues and crematoriums struggle to deal with a seemingly unstoppable flow of bodies. Many people have died in ambulances and car parks waiting for a bed or oxygen.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government has been widely criticised for not acting sooner to suppress the second wave, as religious festivals and political rallies drew tens of thousands of people to "super spreader" events.
"We need a government. Desperately. And we don't have one. We are running
out of air. We are dying," the Booker Prize-winning author Arundhati Roy wrote in an opinion piece that called for Modi to step down.
"This is a crisis of your making," she added in the article published on Tuesday. "You cannot solve it. You can only make it worse....So please go. It is the most responsible thing for you to do. You have forfeited the moral right to be our prime minister."
India's delegation to the Group of Seven foreign ministers' meeting in London is self-isolating after two of its members tested positive for COVID-19, Britain said on Wednesday. Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, who is in London, said in a Twitter message that he would attend virtually. Broadcaster Sky News said Jaishankar did not test positive for the virus, however.
The eastern state of West Bengal, which dealt Modi's party a defeat in an election last week, suspended local train services and limited working hours for banks and jewellery shops, among its steps to limit infections.
Neighbouring Nepal is also being overwhelmed by a surge of infections as India's outbreak spreads across South Asia, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies said. With 57 times as many cases as a month ago, Nepal is seeing 44% of tests come back positive, it added. Towns near the border with India are unable to cope with the growing numbers seeking treatment, while just 1% of its population was fully vaccinated.
Medical experts say India's actual figures could be five to 10 times the official tallies. The country has added 10 million cases in just over four months, after taking more than 10 months to reach its first 10 million.
Two "oxygen express" trains carrying liquid oxygen arrived in the capital, New Delhi, on Wednesday, railways minister Piyush Goyal said on Twitter. More than 25 trains have distributed oxygen supplies nationwide. The government says supplies are sufficient but transport woes have hindered distribution.
India's surge in infections has coincided with a dramatic drop in vaccinations because of supply and delivery problems. At least three states, including Maharashtra, home to the commercial capital of Mumbai, have reported a scarcity of vaccines, shutting down some inoculation centres.
Lengthy queues formed outside two centres in the western city that still have vaccine supplies, and some of those waiting pleaded for police to open their gates earlier. Daily testing has fallen sharply to 1.5 million, state-run Indian Council of Medical Research said on Wednesday, off a peak of 1.95 million on Saturday.




The opposition has urged a nationwide lockdown, but the government is reluctant to impose one for fear of the economic fallout, although several states have adopted social curbs. The central bank asked banks on Wednesday to allow more time for some borrowers to repay, as the infection surge threatens a nascent economic revival.    -REUTERS




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