India’s daily COVID-19 deaths near record, calls for nationwide lockdown mount
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A family member offers prayers during cremation of his loved one who died due to the Covid-19 coronavirus at a cremation ground in Allahabad on May 8, 2021, as India recorded more than 4,000 coronavirus deaths in a day for the first time. (Photo by Sanjay KANOJIA / AFP)
MUMBAI — India’s COVID-19 deaths rose by more than 4,000 for a second consecutive day on Sunday as calls for a nationwide lockdown to curb the spread of the virus mounted.
India’s health ministry reported 4,092 fatalities over the past 24 hours, taking the overall death toll to 242,362. New cases rose by 403,738, just shy of the record and increasing the total since the start of the pandemic to 22.3 million.
India has been hit hard by a second COVID-19 wave with cases and deaths hitting record highs every other day. With an acute shortage of oxygen and beds in many hospitals and morgues and crematoriums overflowing, experts have said the actual numbers for COVID-19 cases and fatalities could be far higher.
Many Indian states have imposed strict lockdowns over the past month to stem the surge in infections while others have announced restrictions on public movement and shut down cinemas, restaurants, pubs and shopping malls.
On Sunday, India’s national capital New Delhi and the northern state of Uttar Pradesh extended their lockdown and curfew rules till May 17.
But pressure is mounting on Prime Minister Narendra Modi to announce a nationwide lockdown similar to the one imposed during the first wave last year.
The Indian Medical Association (IMA), the umbrella body for all conventional doctors and surgeons, called for a “complete, well-planned, pre-announced” lockdown across the country instead of “sporadic” night curfews and restrictions imposed by states for a few days at a time.
“IMA is astonished to see the extreme lethargy and inappropriate actions from the ministry of health in combating the agonizing crisis born out of the devastating second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic,” it said in a statement on Saturday.
Modi has already been battling criticism for allowing a huge gathering at a religious festival and holding large election rallies over the past two months even though COVID-19 cases were surging.
India on Saturday reported its highest ever single-day COVID-19 death toll of 4,187 fatalities. The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation estimates that India will see 1 million COVID-19 deaths by August.
Support has been pouring in from around the world in the form of oxygen cylinders and concentrators, ventilators and other medical equipment for overwhelmed hospitals.
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