India's daily Covid-19 case count tops 400,000
India posted a record daily rise of 401,993 new coronavirus cases on Saturday as the country opened up its massive vaccination drive to all adults, although several states warned of acute shortages.
It was the first time India’s daily case count had topped 400,000 after 10 consecutive days of it exceeding 300,000. Deaths from Covid-19 jumped by 3,523 over 24 hours, taking the country’s total toll to 211,853, according to official data.
The world’s biggest producer of Covid-19 vaccines has a limited number of shots available, worsening a grim second wave of infections that has overwhelmed hospitals and morgues while families scramble for scarce medicines and oxygen.
Hundreds of people were seen queueing to be vaccinated yesterday across Ahmedabad, the main commercial city in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s home state of Gujarat.
The chief minister of the hard-hit state of Delhi on Friday implored people not to queue at vaccination centres, promising more vaccines would arrive “tomorrow or the day after”.
India’s eastern Odisha state said on Friday it had received a consignment of 150,000 vaccines but would only allow a few people to get shots due to lockdown restrictions preventing movement.
A fire in a hospital about 190km south of Ahmedabad killed 16 coronavirus patients and two staff, the latest in a series of deadly accidents at hospitals. Modi offered his condolences to the families of the fire victims on Twitter, hours after he posted pictures of himself praying at a Sikh temple in the capital, New Delhi.
Some experts blame mass religious gatherings and political rallies for the severity of the second wave, which caught the government unprepared.
A forum of scientific advisers set up by the Modi administration warned Indian officials in early March of a new and more contagious variant of the coronavirus taking hold in the country, said five scientists who are part of the forum.
Despite the warning, four of the scientists said the federal government did not seek to impose major restrictions to contain the spread of the virus. Millions of people, largely unmasked, attended religious gatherings and election rallies that were held by Modi, leaders of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party and opposition politicians.
The total number of Covid cases in India has topped 19-million. As the second wave has picked up steam, the country has added about 7.7-million cases since the end of February, according to a Reuters tally. In contrast, it took India nearly six months to add the previous 7.7-million cases.
The surge in cases has led several countries to impose travel restrictions on India. Among them are the US, Australia, Britain, Germany, Italy and Singapore, whereas Canada, Hong Kong and New Zealand have suspended all commercial travel with the country.
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