COVID spread cripples India

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-India’s virus tally reaches 15.93 million with 314,835 new virus cases
-With 2,104 new virus fatalities total score reaches 184,657
-Hospitals across India face oxygen shortage
-Due to B.1.617 variant many countries imposed travel ban on India
-ICC mulls over halting T20 World Cup scheduled in India
-Health experts blame Modi for holding rallies amidst Covid surge

DM Monitoring

NEW DELHI: India reported on Thursday 314,835 new cases of the coronavirus over the previous 24 hours, the highest daily increase recorded anywhere, as its second wave and similar surges elsewhere in the world raised new fears about the virus.
Hospitals across northern and western India including the capital, New Delhi, have issued notices to say they have only a few hours of medical oxygen required to keep Covid-19 patients alive.
More than two-thirds of hospitals had no vacant beds, according to the Delhi government’s online data base and doctors advised patients to stay at home.
“Covid19 has become a public health crisis in India leading to a collapse of the healthcare system,” Krutika Kuppalli, assistant professor at the Division of Infectious Diseases, Medical University of South Carolina in the United States, said on Twitter. The previous record one-day rise in cases was held by the United States, which had 297,430 new cases on one day in January, though its tally has since fallen sharply.
India’s total cases are now at 15.93 million, while deaths rose by 2,104 to reach a total of 184,657, according to the latest health ministry data. Television showed images of people with empty oxygen cylinders crowding refilling facilities in the most populous state of Uttar Pradesh as they scrambled to save relatives in hospital.
“We never thought a second wave would hit us so hard,” Kiran Mazumdar Shaw, the executive chairman of Biocon & Biocon Biologics, an Indian healthcare firm, wrote in the Economic Times. “Complacency led to unanticipated shortages of wmedicines, medical supplies and hospital beds.”
India has launched a vaccination drive but only a tiny fraction of the population has had the shots. Authorities have announced that vaccines will be available to anyone over the age of 18 from May 1 but India won’t have enough shots for the 600 million people who will become eligible, experts say. Similar surges of infections elsewhere, in South America in particular, are overwhelming health services there.
Health experts said India had let its guard down when the virus seemed to be under control during the winter, when new daily cases were about 10,000, and it lifted restrictions to allow big gatherings. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government has come in for criticism for holding packed political rallies for local elections and allowing a religious festival at which millions gathered.
On Thursday, despite the biggest public health emergency the country has faced in a generation, people were voting in the eastern state of West Bengal for a new state assembly in an election that Modi has been campaigning in. “It’s a festival of democracy and everyone is participating. You can see the queues,” said Krishna Kalyan, a candidate from Modi’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
Moreover, Disruption in the supply of medical oxygen has killed at least 22 patients in a hospital in western India’s Maharashtra state, officials have said. Suraj Mandhare, an official in the Nashik district of Maharashtra, said an oxygen tanker leaked outside a hospital in the city, halting its supply for about half an hour. He said the supply of oxygen has since resumed to other patients.
Fire officer Sanjay Bairagi said the leakage was plugged by the fire service within 15 minutes, but there was supply disruption in the Zakir Hussain Hospital. Television images showed white fumes spreading in the hospital area, causing panic.
Surinder Sonone, a police officer, said the leak occurred in a pipe connecting the oxygen supply to the main tank in the hospital complex. Five of the 140 COVID-19 patients were shifted to another hospital, he said. Hospital authorities said whoever was responsible would be held to account, Al Jazeera’s Elizabeth Puranam reported from New Delhi.
“Accidents in hospitals are not uncommon. There have been a number of fires in the past year in hospitals and many COVID patients have died as a result,” she said. Maharashtra is India’s worst-hit state by the latest surge in coronavirus cases in the country, accounting for more than a quarter of daily infections. India’s health ministry reported 295,041 new cases on Wednesday with 2,023 deaths, taking total fatalities to 182,553. India has since the start of the pandemic recorded 15.6 million cases, the second highest behind the United States.