India adds 314,000 Covid cases, surpassing global record for infections in a single day

The country also saw its deadliest day so far, as it recorded 2,104 deaths

Shweta Sharma
Thursday 22 April 2021 16:25
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Queues seen forming outside hospitals in India as cases rise

India has reported more than 314,000 new Covid cases in the past 24 hours, surpassing for the first time the record – previously set by the US in January – for infections in a single day.

The country also saw its deadliest day so far, as on Thursday morning it recorded 2,104 deaths due to coronavirus in the previous 24 hours.

India recently outstripped Brazil to become the second-worst-hit country in the pandemic, having been rocked by a devastating second wave since the country appeared close to a return to normality in January.

There are widespread shortages of oxygen and hospital beds in Delhi, currently the worst-affected single city, while the situation is also dire in the states of Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh, which reported 67,468 and 33,214 new infections respectively.

Experts have attributed the second wave to the emergence of more infectious virus variants, as well as fatigue with pandemic safety measures and the decision to allow a range of large political and religious gatherings.

The country has now seen more than 200,000 cases every day since 15 April, bringing its total number of confirmed cases above 15.9 million, with more than 184,000 deaths.

The unprecedented oxygen crisis has descended into a tragedy, forcing major hospitals in Delhi to appeal to the high court for urgent action. Judges strongly criticised the central government on Wednesday afternoon, asking why the Modi administration was “not waking up to reality”, reported NDTV.

“How is the government so oblivious to the reality on the ground? You can’t have people die because there is no oxygen,” the Delhi High Court said in response to the plea from the Max hospital group, which raised the alarm over shortages of oxygen in their hospitals.

In a late-night tweet on Wednesday, health minister Harsh Vardhan said the government had increased the “quota of oxygen” for seven states, including Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Delhi. He gave assurances that “oxygen demand and supply is being monitored round the clock”.

After India was added to Britain’s “red list” following the emergence of the “double mutant” Covid variant, Heathrow airport refused to allow extra flights between India and the UK before Friday, when the restrictions will come into effect.

The UK’s busiest airport turned down requests from airlines to add extra flights before Friday, citing concerns over long queues at passport control.

Amid the explosion of coronavirus infections in India, jam-packed election rallies and voting continued in the state of West Bengal. Indian prime minister Narendra Modi is facing criticism for allowing the voting amidst a pandemic and also for urging Hindu devotees to continue attending the Kumbh festival – the largest human pilgrimage anywhere in the world.

The vaccination drive has also slowed down in India, with 132 million Covid-19 vaccine doses given since the drive began in mid-January. An average of about 3.4 million doses were administered every day between 7 and 13 April, however the rate had declined one week later to a daily average of 2.7 million vaccines.

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