A fire in a COVID-19 hospital ward in western India killed 18 patients early Saturday, as the country grappling with the worst outbreak yet steps up a vaccination drive for all its adults, even though some states say they don't have enough jabs. The fire broke out in a COVID-19 ward on the ground floor shortly after midnight and was extinguished within an hour, police said. Eighteen died in the blaze and smoke at the Welfare Hospital in Bharuch, a town in Gujarat state, before rescuers could reach them, said police officer BM Parmar, per the AP. Thirty-one other patients were rescued by hospital workers and firefighters and their condition was stable, Parmar noted.
According to a police official, the fire was caused by a short circuit, per the ANI news service. India on Saturday set yet another daily global record with 401,993 new COVID cases, taking its tally to more than 19.1 million. Another 3,523 people died in the past 24 hours, raising the overall fatalities to 211,853, according to the Health Ministry. Experts believe both figures are an undercount. The country is now shifting its vaccination campaign into high gear, announcing that all adults 18 and over are eligible for COVID vaccines.
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