© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Patient with coronavirus disease (COVID-19) receives treatment in the emergency department of a New Delhi hospital
BENGALURU (Reuters) – India’s opposition leader Rahul Gandhi called for a nationwide lockdown as the country’s coronavirus infection count surpassed 20 million on Tuesday, becoming the country’s second after the United States to take this dark step.
India’s second deadly wave of infections, the largest increase in the number of coronavirus infections in the world, took just over four months to add 10 million cases, compared to more than 10 months for its first 10 million. Currently, the country has 3.45 million active cases.
India reported 357,229 new cases in the past 24 hours on Tuesday, while deaths increased by 3,449 to a toll of 222,408, according to data from the Ministry of Health.
Medical experts say the real numbers in India could be five to 10 times higher than reported.
“The only way to stop the spread of Corona now is a complete lockdown … The inaction of the Indian government is killing many innocent people,” Congressman Gandhi said on Twitter, referring to the Indian government .
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government is reluctant to impose a nationwide lockdown due to economic fallout, but several states have imposed various social restrictions.
The surge in cases of the highly infectious Indian variant of COVID-19 has overwhelmed the healthcare system, drained supplies of medical oxygen vital for the survival of those infected and seen patients die in ambulances and parking lots outside hospitals .
Rows of funeral pyres in parks and parking lots cremated the overflowing corpses.
India has postponed exams for trainee doctors and nurses in a desperate effort to fight infections sweeping through the world’s second most populous country.
Modi has been criticized for failing to act sooner to limit the latest wave of infections and for letting millions of largely unmasked people attend religious festivals and crowded political rallies in March and April.
“What the past few weeks reveal is that the Center and the states have unfortunately not been prepared for the second wave,” a Times of India editorial said on Tuesday.
Offering a silver lining, the health ministry said positive cases relative to the number of tests fell on Monday for the first time since at least April 15.
Coronavirus cases in some areas were leveling off, a federal health ministry official said on Monday, adding that some states like Chhattisgarh, Delhi, Maharashtra and the most populous Uttar Pradesh had seen their numbers decline.
Modeling by a team of government advisers shows cases could peak by Wednesday this week, days earlier than a previous estimate, as the virus has spread faster than expected.
India’s COVID-19 outbreak has coincided with a dramatic drop in vaccinations, due to supply and delivery issues.
Despite being the world’s largest producer of vaccines, India does not have enough for itself. Public forecasts from its only two current vaccine producers show that their total monthly output of 70 to 80 million doses would only increase in two months or more, although the number of people eligible for vaccines has doubled to around 800 million. since May 1st.
Only 9.5% of the population of 1.35 billion people received at least a single dose.
India invited Pfizer (NYSE :), Johnson & Johnson (NYSE 🙂 and Modern (NASDAQ 🙂 Inc to sell their vaccines domestically, but none have yet applied to do so. Pfizer has told the Indian government there are no concerns about the safety of its COVID-19 vaccine as the country insists on small local trials for foreign vaccines despite a record rise in infections and a shortage of doses .
International aid continued to arrive in India on Tuesday, with the landing of 545 oxygen concentrators from the United States, the fifth in a series of consignments carrying medical supplies.