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Grim new India toll

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India has recorded its deadliest day of the pandemic yet with 3,689 deaths reported in the last 24 hours, as the country’s caseload surged to 19.5 million with 392,488 fresh infections according to government data.

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This is the fourth straight day India has recorded over 3,000 deaths as the second wave of the pandemic carries on unabated and keeps setting grim new records, data showed on Sunday.

Altogether, 215,542 people have died from Covid-19.

India became the first country to cross 400,000 daily cases on Saturday.

It recorded 6.6 million infections and 45,000 deaths in April, compared to the little over 1.2 million cases and 5,417 deaths in March, broadcaster NDTV reported.

Health care systems are overwhelmed, and a shortage of medical oxygen has emerged as the most serious challenge.

Thirty-four patients died for alleged want of oxygen in hospitals in the national capital, New Delhi, and the states of Andhra Pradesh and Haryana on Saturday, the Times of India reported.

Thirty-one more with Covid-19-like symptoms and “breathing difficulties” died in a hospital in Uttar Pradesh state, the report cited authorities as saying.

The Delhi High Court has warned that it will start punishing officials if life-saving supplies of oxygen and medical supplies don’t make it to hospitals.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday held a meeting with experts and officials to tide over the oxygen and drugs crisis.

Indian Railways has converted 4,000 railway carriages into “isolation coaches” with 64,000 beds. As many as 213 coaches had been handed to various states for Covid-19 care, it said.

While the worst-affected cities and states like New Delhi and Mahrashtra are in prolonged lockdowns, states like Odisha and Haryana also announced new lockdowns to halt the spread of infections in rural areas.

India’s Covid-19 taskforce has pushed hard for a nationwide lockdown to help subdue the second wave, the Indian Express reported.

Last month, Modi said all efforts should be made be avoid a lockdown.

The federal government fears another lockdown will have a devastating impact on the economy. The lockdown imposed last year after the first COVID-19 outbreak led to job losses as economic output fell a record 24 per cent in April-June 2020 compared with the same period a year earlier.

Modi’s government has been criticised for letting millions of largely unmasked people attend religious festivals and crowded political rallies in five states through March and April. Daily cases in these states have spiked since then.

-with AAP

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