India’s tally surges past 20 million, boosted by 357,229 new cases over last 24 hours, while deaths rise by 3,449 for a total of 222,408.
India on Tuesday confirmed more than 20 million coronavirus infections in the official total, though the figure is believed to be a vast undercount.
A vicious surge in COVID-19 cases has left the country’s healthcare system at breaking point, with hospitals running out of oxygen and nearly all hospital beds occupied.
The country has witnessed scenes of people dying outside overwhelmed hospitals and funeral pyres lighting up the night sky.
Here are the latest updates:
Australia retreats on jail threat for India travelers
Australia Prime Minister Scott Morrison has fended off accusations of racism and having “blood on his hands” as he retreated from a threat to jail Australians trying to escape coronavirus-wracked India.
Australia last week banned all travellers from India, including its own citizens, from entering the country until May 15 due to the surge in COVID-19 cases there, and warned offenders will face the maximum penalties of five years in jail and a 66,000 Australian dollar ($51,122) fine for breaking border rules.
Read more here.
India’s vaccinations plummet as infections soar
India’s daily COVID-19 shots have fallen sharply from an all-time high reached early last month as domestic companies struggle to boost supplies and imports are limited.
Daily inoculations have averaged 2.5 million since hitting a peak of 4.5 million on April 5.
India, with the world’s biggest vaccine making capacity, has partially or fully immunised only 9.5 percent of its 1.35 billion people, according to data from the government’s Co-Win portal.
Main opposition leader calls for national lockdown
Indian opposition leader Rahul Gandhi has called for a nationwide lockdown as the country’s tally of coronavirus infections surged past 20 million, becoming the second nation after the United States to pass the grim milestone.
“The only way to stop the spread of Corona now is a full lockdown… GOI’s inaction is killing many innocent people,” Congress MP Gandhi said on Twitter, referring to the government of India.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government is reluctant to impose a national lockdown due to the economic fall out, yet several states have imposed various social restrictions.
‘Horrible’ weeks ahead, warns prominent expert
Dr Ashish Jha, dean of Brown University’s School of Public Health in the United States, said he is concerned that Indian policymakers he has been in contact with believe things will improve in the next few days.
“I’ve been … trying to say to them, ‘If everything goes very well, things will be horrible for the next several weeks. And it may be much longer,’” he said.
Jha said the focus needs to be on “classic” public health measures: targeted shutdowns, more testing, universal mask-wearing and avoiding large gatherings. “That is what’s going to break the back of this surge,” he said.
India’s tally of COVID-19 infections crosses 20 million
India’s tally of coronavirus infections surged past 20 million, boosted by 357,229 new cases over the last 24 hours, while deaths rose by 3,449 for a total of 222,408 fatalities, health ministry data showed.
India becomes the world’s second nation, after the United States, to pass the grim milestone. It took the South Asian country just over four months to add 10 million cases, versus more than 10 months for its first 10 million.
India virus crisis a ‘disaster like an earthquake’
Doctors in New Dehli hospitals say their infrastructure is close to collapse amid India’s coronavirus surge and begged for help from the West and the international community.
Beds are full and supplies of oxygen have run dangerously low in facilities, leading to increased fatalities. In some cases the only way for a new patient to get an ICU bed is if the previous occupant dies.
The crisis seems to show no signs of abating, meaning medical staff are also close to exhaustion.
A doctor compared the situation with a “major disaster” and said a response comparable to that given after an earthquake was necessary.
Al Jazeera and news agencies