A nation at test; India tops 200,000 dead amid coronavirus surge

Coronavirus deaths in India have passed the 200,000 mark, with cremations taking place around the clock in some regions. US President Joe Biden said additional vaccines would be shipped to the country.

Updated at 15:30 GMT on Wednesday 28th April 2021

New Delhi, India

HICGI News Agency

  • India has logged a global daily record of 362,567 new infections
  • The country’s total COVID-19 death toll has crossed 200,000
  • India ranks second in the world after the US for the total number of cases
  • Its fatality count is fourth behind the US, Brazil and Mexico
  • Several countries have pledged aid, including Germany, France, the EU, Britain, the US, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan
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Coronavirus cases are surging in India, with the South Asian country reporting a global record of 362,567 new infections on Wednesday and the death toll crossing 200,000.

Indian officials said 3,293 people died in the past 24 hours, the first time the country saw over 3,000 fatalities in one day.

India has been logging global daily records of over 300,000 cases for the last seven days. 

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi receives a dose of COVID-19 vaccine in New Delhi. Modi’s response to the pandemic has drawn widespread criticism.

While the numbers are staggering, experts and epidemiological modelers believe that the real number of COVID cases and fatalities could be much higher.

Hospitals, meanwhile, are being stretched to breaking point with people dying outside their doors or at home due to a lack of beds, drugs and medical oxygen.

Crematoriums are working overtime, their chimneys cracking and iron frames melting from constant use. Wood is reportedly in short supply in places and some families are told to bring their own to burn.

Workers build new platforms to cremate bodies in New Delhi, as deaths surge.

What’s driving the surge?

Shuchin Bajaj, the co-founder and director of the Indian Ujala Cygnus hospital chain, said the situation in India is “worse than you can imagine.” 

“I get more than 500 calls a day from people asking for beds, asking for oxygen and asking for help,” Bajaj said. India faces a widespread shortage of oxygen and vital medical supplies, exacerbating the crisis.

Bajaj said multiple factors are driving the explosion of infections in India. 

“I think the sheer size of the population and the fact there are big metropolitan cities, congested areas, and the virus has mutated,” he explained. “We are seeing double mutant viruses, triple mutant viruses as well now. The UK variant is hugely prevalent in the northern part of the country. So a mix of all these factors, I think, is leading to this inferno that’s engulfing everything in its path.”

‘We really need to stand with India now’: WHO spokesperson Tarik Jasarevic

WHO spokesperson Tarik Jasarevic says the Indian coronavirus variant seems to have the capacity to attach to human cells more easily. A combination of factors, such as higher transmissibility, mass gatherings, low vaccination levels and a population that lets its guard down has also led to explosion of cases elsewhere, too, but none on the scale India is experiencing.

Foreign aid arrives in India as COVID-19 cases surge

The first foreign emergency supplies are starting to arrive in India as it battles a catastrophic third wave of COVID-19. The country registered over 320,000 new cases on Tuesday. Staff at overrun hospitals are being forced to turn people away.

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Contribution by DW, Reuters, & AFP

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