Daily coronavirus cases exceed 400,000 for the first time
A patient wearing an oxygen mask is transported inside a COVID-19 hospital for treatment, amid the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Ahmedabad, India on April 26, 2021.
Amit Dave | Reuters
India recorded a record daily increase of 401,993 new coronavirus cases on Saturday as the country opened its mass vaccination campaign to all adults, although several states have warned of severe shortages.
It was the first time the daily number of cases in India exceeded 400,000 after 10 consecutive days of more than 300,000. Deaths from Covid-19 have jumped by 3,523 in the past 24 hours, bringing the toll total in India at 211,853, according to official data.
The world’s largest producer of Covid-19 vaccines has a limited number of shots available, exacerbating a grim second wave of infections that has engulfed hospitals and mortuaries as families scramble for scarce medicine and oxygen.
Hundreds of people were seen lining up for vaccinations in Ahmedabad, the main commercial city of Gujarat, home state of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, on Saturday.
The chief minister of the hard-hit Delhi state on Friday pleaded with people not to queue at vaccination centers, promising more vaccines would arrive “tomorrow or the day after.”
The Indian state of Odisha in eastern India said on Friday it had received a shipment of 150,000 shots, but would only allow a few people to be shot at due to locking restrictions preventing movement.
A fire at a hospital about 190 km south of Ahmedabad has killed 16 coronavirus patients and two staff members, the latest in a series of fatal accidents at hospitals.
Modi offered his condolences to the families of the victims of the hospital fires on Twitter, hours after posting photos 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 India’s second wave, which caught the government off guard.
A forum of science advisers set up by the Modi administration warned Indian officials in early March of a new, more contagious variant of the coronavirus taking hold in the country, five scientists who are part of the forum told Reuters.
Despite the warning, four of the scientists said the federal government was not looking to impose major restrictions to contain the spread of the virus.
Millions of people, largely unmasked, attended religious rallies and election rallies organized by Modi, leaders of the ruling Bharatiya Janata party and opposition politicians.
The total number of Covid cases in India has exceeded 19 million. As the second wave accelerated, India has added about 7.7 million cases since the end of February, according to a Reuters tally. In contrast, it took India almost six months to add the previous 7.7 million cases.
The surge in cases has led US President Joe Biden to impose new travel restrictions in India on Friday, prohibit most non-US citizens from entering the United States.
Australian officials have said residents and citizens who are in India within 14 days of their due date to return home will be banned from entering Australia from Monday, and those who disobey will be barred from entering Australia. face fines and jail time.
Other countries and territories have also imposed similar travel restrictions on India, including Britain, Germany, Italy and Singapore, while Canada, Hong Kong and New Zealand have suspended all. commercial trips with India.