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People queue for vaccination in Mumbai, India. SIPA USA/PA Images
covid cases

India records 320,000 new cases as foreign help arrives

India’s death toll is set to pass 200,000 after a massive recent surge in Covid cases.

INDIA RECORDED MORE than 320,000 new cases of Covid-19 today as the country’s sinking health system started receiving support from foreign nations.

Tuesday’s 323,144 new infections raised India’s total past 17.6 million, behind only the United States.

It ended a five-day streak of recording the largest single-day increases in any country throughout the pandemic, but the decline likely reflects lower weekend testing rather than reduced spread of the virus.

The health ministry also reported another 2,771 deaths in 24 hours, with roughly 115 Indians succumbing to the disease every hour. The latest fatalities pushed India’s death toll to 197,894, behind the US, Brazil and Mexico. Experts say even these figures are probably an undercount.

Foreign ministry spokesman Arindam Bagchi has tweeted photos of the first shipment of medical aid India received from Britain. It included 100 ventilators and 95 oxygen concentrators.

Other nations including the US, Germany, Israel, France and Pakistan have also promised medical aid to India.

mass-cremation-of-covid19-victims-in-new-delhi-india-26-apr-2021 Relatives at funeral pyres of people who died due to Covid-19 in New Delhi, India. SIPA USA / PA Images SIPA USA / PA Images / PA Images

The countries have said they will supply oxygen, diagnostic tests, treatments, ventilators and protective gear to help India at a time of crisis which World Health Organization chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus yesterday called “beyond heartbreaking”.

Ireland is to donate 700 oxygen concentrators to India as part of efforts to assist with the devastating Covid-19 outbreak in the country.

The surge, spurred by insidious new variants of coronavirus, has undermined the Indian government’s premature claims of victory over the pandemic.

The country of nearly 1.4 billion people is facing a chronic shortage of space on its intensive care wards.

Hospitals are experiencing oxygen shortages and many people are being forced to turn to makeshift facilities for mass burials and cremations as the country’s funeral services have become overwhelmed.

Meanwhile, in a bid to tackle the shortage of beds, Indian authorities are turning to train carriages, which have been converted into isolation wards.

India has also started airlifting oxygen tankers to states in need. Special trains with oxygen supplies are also running in the country.

The White House was moving to share raw materials for the production of the AstraZeneca vaccine with India by diverting some US orders to the vaccine manufacturer, Serum Institute of India.

White House Covid-19 coordinator Jeff Zients told The Associated Press the Biden administration was working to satisfy other “key requests” from the Indian government, namely for personal protective equipment, tests, therapeutics and supplies of oxygen and respiratory assistance devices.

The US has come under fire for hoarding supplies including of the AstraZeneca vaccine, as other countries battle sprawling outbreaks.

“U.S. to release 60 million Astra Zeneca doses to other countries as they become available,” tweeted Andy Slavitt, senior advisor to the White House on Covid response.

It was not immediately clear how many doses are ready to be shipped or where they will go, with Slavitt adding “at this time there are still very few available.”

WHO chief Tedros warned that globally, new case numbers have been rising for nine weeks straight.

“To put it in perspective,” he said, “there were almost as many cases globally last week as in the first five months of the pandemic.”

Maria Van Kerkhove, the WHO’s technical lead on Covid-19, told reporters the surge in India was “really, truly astonishing” — but warned it was not unique, and that several countries had seen similar trajectories of increased transmission.

“We’re in a fragile situation,” she said.

Press Association
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