BENGALURU (Reuters) – Indian opposition leader Rahul Gandhi called for a nationwide lockdown as the country’s coronavirus infection count surpassed 20 million on Tuesday, making it the second nation after the United States to overcome the grim milestone. India’s deadly second wave of infections, the world’s largest increase in coronavirus infections, has taken just over four months to add 10 million cases, up from more than 10 months for its first 10 million. Currently, the country has 3.45 million active cases. On Tuesday, India reported 357,229 new cases in the last 24 hours, while deaths rose 3,449 to a balance of 222,408, data from the Health Ministry showed. Medical experts say that the actual figures in India could be five to ten times higher than those reported. “The only way to stop the spread of Corona now is a total blockade … The inaction of the Government of India is killing many innocent people,” said Congressman Gandhi on Twitter, referring to the Government of India. The government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi is reluctant to impose a national blockade due to the economic downturn, however several states have imposed various social restrictions. Rising cases of the highly infectious Indian variant of COVID-19 have flooded the healthcare system, depleted supplies of medical oxygen vital to the survival of those infected, and seen patients die in ambulances and parking lots outside hospitals. Rows of funeral pyres in parks and parking lots incinerate overflowing corpses. India has postponed examinations for doctors and nurses-in-training in a desperate effort to fight the infections that are spreading through the world’s second-most populous country. Modi has been criticized for failing to act sooner to limit the latest wave of infections and for allowing millions of largely unmasked people to attend packed religious festivals and political rallies during March and April. “What the last few weeks reveal is that neither the Center nor the states have been woefully prepared for the second wave,” an editorial in the Times of India said on Tuesday. Offering a ray of hope, the Health Ministry said that positive cases relative to the number of tests fell on Monday for the first time since at least April 15. Coronavirus cases in some regions were stagnating, a federal Health Ministry official said on Monday, adding that some states such as Chhattisgarh, Delhi, Maharashtra and the most populous, Uttar Pradesh, had seen the number drop. Modeling by a team of government advisers shows that cases could peak on Wednesday this week, a few days ahead of an earlier estimate, as the virus has spread faster than expected. The rise of COVID-19 in India has coincided with a dramatic drop in vaccines, due to problems with supplies and delivery. Despite being the world’s largest producer of vaccines, India does not have enough for itself. Public forecasts from its only two current vaccine producers show that its total monthly production of 70-80 million doses would increase in just two months or more, although the number of people eligible for vaccines has doubled to an estimated 800 million since May 1st. Only 9.5% of the population of 1.35 billion have received at least a single dose. India has invited Pfizer (NYSE :), Johnson & Johnson (NYSE 🙂 and Moderna (NASDAQ 🙂 Inc to sell their vaccines domestically, but none have applied to do so yet. Pfizer told the Indian government there was no concern about the safety of its COVID-19 vaccine, as the country insists on small local trials for foreign injections despite a record spike in infections and dose shortages. International aid continued to arrive in India on Tuesday, with 545 oxygen concentrators from the United States, the fifth in a series of shipments carrying medical equipment.
Opposition chief calls for a nationwide lockdown as India’s coronavirus cases top 20 million By Reuters