Covid-19 Crisis in India: Cases hold close to record highs | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, May 11, 2021 / LAST MODIFIED: 07:27 AM, May 11, 2021

Covid-19 Crisis in India: Cases hold close to record highs

Dozens of suspected Covid corpses found in Ganges river; ‘black fungus’ adds to woes

Coronavirus infections and deaths held close to record daily highs yesterday, increasing calls for the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to lock down the world's second-most populous country.

The 366,161 new infections and 3,754 deaths reported by the health ministry were off a little from recent peaks, taking India's tally to 22.66 million with 246,116 deaths as hospitals run out of oxygen and beds and morgues and crematoria overflow.

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Experts have said India's actual figures could be far higher than reported.

Sunday's 1.47 million tests for Covid-19 were this month's lowest yet, data from the state-run Indian Council of Medical Research showed. The figure compared with a daily average of 1.7 million for the first eight days of May.

The number of positive results from the tests was not immediately clear, however.

Many states have imposed strict lockdowns over the last month while others have placed curbs on movement and shut cinemas, restaurants, pubs and shopping malls.

But pressure is mounting on Modi to announce a nationwide lockdown as he did during the first wave of infections last year.

"A failure of governance of epic and historic proportions," Vipin Narang, a political science professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in the United States, said on Twitter.

Sonia Gandhi, the chief of the main opposition Congress party, blamed the government for abdicating its responsibility by leaving vaccinations to states, Reuters partner ANI said on Twitter.

Delhi's health minister said the city was running out of vaccines, with just three to four days of supplies remaining of AstraZeneca, made by the Serum Institute of India and branded Covishield, the NDTV news channel reported.

By yesterday, the world's largest vaccine-producing nation had fully vaccinated just over 34.8 million, or about 2.5%, of a population of about 1.35 billion, government data shows.

Dozens of bodies believed to be Covid-19 victims have washed up on the banks of the Ganges river in northern India, officials said yesterday.

Local official Ashok Kumar said that about 40 corpses washed up in Buxar district near the border between Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, two of India's poorest states.

"We have directed concerned officials to dispose of all bodies, to either bury or cremate them," Kumar told AFP.

Some media reports said the number of corpses could be as high as 100.

SHUT DOWN NEEDED

On Sunday, top White House coronavirus adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci said he had advised Indian authorities they needed to shut down.

"You've got to shut down," Fauci said on ABC's "This Week" television show. "I believe several of the Indian states have already done that, but you need to break the chain of transmission. And one of the ways to do that is to shut down."

The Indian Medical Association (IMA) has also called for a "complete, well-planned, pre-announced" lockdown.

The government has told doctors to look out for signs of mucormycosis or "black fungus" in Covid-19 patients as hospitals report a rise in cases of the rare but potentially fatal infection.

The state-run Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) said at the weekend that doctors treating Covid-19 patients, diabetics and those with compromised immune systems should watch for early symptoms including sinus pain or nasal blockage on one side of the face, one-sided headache, swelling or numbness, toothache and loosening of teeth.

Global support for India, in the form of oxygen cylinders and concentrators, ventilators and other medical gear, continues to pour in.

US company Eli Lilly and Co said it had signed licensing deals with Indian drugmakers, such as Cipla Ltd , Lupin and Sun Pharma to make and sell its arthritis drug baricitinib for the treatment of Covid-19 patients.

India's drug regulator has approved the drug for restricted emergency use in combination with remdesivir for hospitalised adult sufferers requiring oxygen.

Meanwhile, Britain yesterday announced a further easing of its coronavirus lockdown, joining several European nations in gradually reopening their economies.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced the latest measures -- effective May 17 -- in a press conference, including the reopening of indoor seating in pubs and restaurants.

The United Arab Emirates and Kuwait yesterday suspended travel from Bangladesh, Pakistan, Nepal and Sri Lanka to contain the spread of the coronavirus.

UAE citizens, long-term residency holders - known as "golden visa" holders - and diplomats are not included in the ban.

To enter Kuwait from the four countries, people must have been in another country for at least 14 days beforehand, a government statement said.

 

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