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Senin, 03 Mei 2021

India's COVID-19 case total nears 20 million, as country records over 300,000 new infections for 12th day - ABC News

India has reported more than 300,000 new coronavirus cases for a 12th straight day, taking its overall infection tally to just shy of 20 million, while deaths from COVID-19 rose by 3,417.

With 368,147 new cases over the past 24 hours, India's total infections stand at 19.93 million, on Monday, while total deaths are 218,959, according to health ministry data.

Medical experts have said real numbers across the country of 1.35 billion may be five to 10 times higher than the official tally.

Hospitals have filled to capacity, medical oxygen supplies have run short and morgues and crematoriums have been swamped as the country deals with the surge in cases.

At least 11 states and union territories have imposed some form of restrictions to try and stem infections, but Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government is reluctant to impose a national lockdown, concerned about the economic impact.

A man in a gas mask stands next to a funeral pyre.
Mass cremations in New Delhi have become common to keep up with the death toll. (

Reuters: Adnan Abidi

)

"In my opinion, only a national stay at home order and declaring medical emergency will help to address the current healthcare needs," Bhramar Mukherjee, an epidemiologist with the University of Michigan, said on Twitter.

The spike in infections is India's biggest crisis since Mr Modi took office in 2014.

Mr Modi has been criticised for not taking steps earlier to curb the spread and for letting millions of largely unmasked people attend religious festivals and crowded political rallies in five states during March and April.

A forum of scientific advisers set up by the government warned Indian officials in early March of a new and 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 did not seek to impose major restrictions to stop the spread of the virus.

It remains to be seen how his handling of the crisis might affect Mr Modi or his party politically. The next general election is due in 2024.

Modi's party defeated in state election 

Supporters of Chief Minister of West Bengal state celebrate after the initial poll results.
Supporters of Chief Minister of West Bengal state and the Chief of Trinamool Congress Mamata Banerjee celebrate after the initial poll results.(

Reuters: Rupak De Chowdhuri

)

Mr Modi's party was defeated in India's West Bengal state in results declared on Sunday (local time), although it won in the neighbouring state of Assam.

Supporters of Chief Minister of West Bengal state and the Chief of Trinamool Congress Mamata Banerjee celebrated in the streets after the initial poll results.

Leaders of 13 opposition parties on Sunday signed a letter urging Mr Modi to immediately open up the country's vaccination rollout and to prioritise oxygen supply to hospitals and health centres.

Several states have postponed widening a vaccination drive for adults that was to start on Saturday due to a lack of vaccines.

The national health ministry has said states have 10 million vaccines stockpiled and 2 million more coming in the next three days.

Despite being the world's biggest producer of vaccines, India does not have enough for itself — undermining a plan to ramp up and widen inoculation from Saturday. Only about 9 per cent of its 1.4 billion people have had a dose.

India has struggled to increase capacity beyond 80 million doses a month due to lack of raw materials and a fire at the Serum Institute, which makes the AstraZeneca vaccine.

International aid has been pouring into India.

Australia will send India 500 ventilators, as well as 1 million surgical masks, 500,000 P2 and N95 masks, 100,000 goggles, 100,000 pairs of gloves and 20,000 face shields.

"I stress this is an initial package, there'll be more to follow," Prime Minister Scott Morrison said.

Britain will send another 1,000 ventilators to India, the government said on Sunday. Prime ministers Boris Johnson and Mr Modi are scheduled to talk on Tuesday.

The Indian COVID-19 variant has now reached at least 17 countries including Britain, Switzerland and Iran, leading several governments to close their borders to people travelling from India.

Australia has banned arrivals from India until at least May 15, with threats of jail time and fines of up to $66,000 for would-be travellers.

Reuters

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2021-05-03 07:35:46Z
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