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India's COVID Catastrophe Is Only Getting Worse

Nation sets another global record in cases, resorts to armed escorts for oxygen
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 23, 2021 2:14 PM CDT

(Newser) – India set the global record for daily COVID cases on Thursday, then broke the record on Friday with more than 332,000 new ones in a 24-hour span. The nation also recorded a national high 2,263 deaths in 24 hours, reports the BBC. The situation is bleak:

  • Hospitals across the country are scrambling for oxygen, reports the New York Times. In the capital of Delhi, about half the new cases involve a fast-spreading new variant that is hitting younger people. Reuters reports that oxygen is in such low supply that police are providing armed escorts to tankers making deliveries to hospitals.
  • Families, meanwhile, are struggling to find hospitals able to accept loved ones. NBC News details the story of a 40-year-old man who died in the back seat of a car as his family drove him to about a dozen hospitals in the western state of Maharashtra, none of which had room to accept him. "We were so distressed, we even begged the doctor to let him sleep on the hospital floor," says his sister of one visit. "Everyone said no."

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  • One day after 22 COVID patients died in a hospital after a leak cut off their oxygen, another 13 were killed in a hospital fire in Maharashtra.
  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi enjoys widespread popularity, but he's starting to take flak on social media with hashtags such as SuperSpreaderModi and ResignModi, per CNN. For one thing, Modi has continued flying around the country to host large political rallies, though he canceled his latest to convene an emergency meeting. His government also allowed a large Hindu festival to go forward.
  • "There was perhaps a lost opportunity to learn from the first wave," Krishna Udayakumar of Duke Global Health Innovation Center tells the Times. The second wave began in mid-March, soon after India's health minister said the nation was in the "end game" of the pandemic.
  • Dr. Anthony Fauci called the situation in India "dire" and said the CDC would try to provide technical support and assistance, per the AP. The US also has discouraged travel to India, while Canada, Britain, Hong Kong, Singapore, and New Zealand are among the nations that have barred travelers from India.
(Read more COVID-19 stories.)

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