India COVID-19 update: Deaths cross 200,000, new infections continue to spike

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India is fighting a devastating surge in COVID-19 infections that has torn through both cities and rural areas alike. Read on for the latest updates on COVID-19 in India.

Grim milestone

India crossed a grim milestone Wednesday of 200,000 people lost to the coronavirus as a devastating surge of new infections tears through the country.

The health ministry reported 3,293 daily COVID-19 deaths in the last 24 hours, bringing India’s total fatalities to 201,187. The country also reported 362,757 new infections, a new global record, which raised the overall total past 17.9 million.

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A worker wearing personal protection equipment (PPE) loads wood onto a cart at a crematorium on the outskirts of New Delhi, India, on Friday, April 23, 2021. Image Credit: Bloomberg

Updates from April 27

A shipment from Britain, including 100 ventilators and 95 oxygen concentrators, arrived in the capital, New Delhi, though a spokesman for Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Britain had no surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses to spare.

France is sending eight large oxygen generating plants this week and Ireland, Germany and Australia are sending oxygen concentrators and ventilators, an Indian foreign ministry official said, underlining the crucial need of oxygen.

But the crisis in the metropolis of 20 million people, the epicentre of the latest wave of infections, continued unabated. Dr K.Preetham, chief of medical administration at Delhi’s Indian Spinal Injuries Centre, said the scarcity of oxygen was the main concern.

Over the past 24 hours, India recorded 323,144 new cases, slightly below a worldwide peak of 352,991 it reached on Monday. Deaths rose by 2,771 to 197,894.

Rijo M John, a professor and health economist at the Indian Institute of Management in the southern state of Kerala, said the drop in cases was largely due to a fall in testing. “This should not be taken as an indication of falling cases, rather a matter of missing out on too many positive cases!” he said on Twitter.

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India has called on its armed forces to help tackle the devastating crisis. Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat said late on Monday that oxygen would be released from armed forces reserves and retired medical personnel would join struggling health facilities.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has urged all citizens to get vaccinated and exercise caution amid the “storm” of infections. Read more

Australia on Tuesday announced a temporary ban on direct passenger flights from India, as the South Asian nation grapples with a massive surge in coronavirus infections. Read More

India covid graphic
Image Credit: Graphic News

Vaccine demand outpaces supply

India, home to around 1.3 billion people, has so far reported 17.64 million COVID-19 infections, but experts believe the tally runs significantly higher.

Vaccine demand has outpaced supply in India, with companies struggling to boost output, partly because of a shortage of raw materials and a fire at a facility making the AstraZeneca shot.

India’s worst-hit state of Maharashtra, home to the financial capital Mumbai, could postpone inoculation for those between the ages of 18-45 amid supply uncertainties, a government official said.

India plans to open up vaccination to all adults from May 1.

The country is negotiating with the United States, which has said it will share 60 million doses of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine with other countries.

“Major lobbying is on at this point of time to secure as much as possible for India,” a senior Indian official part of ongoing negotiations told Reuters, adding that Modi had been assured that India would be given priority.

Bhutan to supply liquid oxygen

Bhutan will supply life-saving liquid oxygen to India, signalling a practical manifestation of the ‘uniquely close and friendly’ bilateral ties, the Indian embassy in Thimphu said on Tuesday.

Every day, 40 metric tonnes of liquid oxygen produced by the oxygen plant will be exported to Assam using cryogenic tankers, the embassy said in a statement.

The liquid oxygen to India will be supplied from the new plant being set up at the Motanga Industrial Estate, Samdrup Jongkhar district by a Bhutanese company, S D Cryogenics Gases Private Limited, it said.