India accounted for nearly half of worldwide Covid-19 cases last week, WHO reveals as deaths reach new record

Michael Howie
·3-min read
<p>People wait in a line to refill oxygen cylinders for Covid-19 coronavirus patients at a refilling centre in New Delhi on Wednesday</p> (AFP via Getty Images)

People wait in a line to refill oxygen cylinders for Covid-19 coronavirus patients at a refilling centre in New Delhi on Wednesday

(AFP via Getty Images)

India accounted for nearly half of the Covid-19 cases reported worldwide last week, the World Health Organisation revealed on Wednesday, as the country's daily coronavirus death toll reached another record.

The WHO said in its weekly epidemiological report that India accounted for 46% of global cases and 25% of global deaths reported in the past week.

Daily infections in the country rose by 382,315 on Wednesday, health ministry data showed, the 14th straight day of more than 300,000 cases. Meanwhile the official death toll rose by a record 3,780 in the last 24 hours, taking the total to around 225,000 - the third highest in the world behind the USA and Brazil.

India's second deadly surge of Covid-19 has seen hospitals runs out of beds and oxygen and left morgues and crematoriums overflowing. Many people have died in ambulances and car parks waiting for a bed or oxygen.

It comes as India’s Foreign Minister was self-isolating in London on Wednesday after two members of his delegation to a G7 summit tested positive for Covid-19.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government has been widely criticised for not acting sooner to suppress the second wave of the virus. Religious festivals and political rallies have attracted tens of thousands of people in super spreader events.

"We need a government. Desperately. And we don’t have one. We are running out of air. We are dying..." wrote Indian author Arundhati Roy in an opinion piece published on Tuesday calling for Mr Modi to step down.

"This is a crisis of your making. You cannot solve it. You can only make it worse....So please go. It is the most responsible thing for you to do. You have forfeited the moral right to be our prime minister."

Young Indians wait to get vaccinated against the coronavirus at Radha Soami Satsang Ground in New Delhi on WednesdayAP
Young Indians wait to get vaccinated against the coronavirus at Radha Soami Satsang Ground in New Delhi on WednesdayAP

Two "oxygen express" trains reached the capital Delhi on Wednesday carrying desperately needed liquid oxygen, Minister of Railways Piyush Goyal said on Twitter. More than 25 trains have so far delivered oxygen to different parts of India.

India's government says there are enough oxygen supplies but distribution has been hindered by transport problems.

A two-judge bench of the Delhi High Court has been holding almost daily video conferences to hear petitions from hospitals seeking oxygen and invoking India's constitutional right to protection of life.

India's surge in infections has coincided with a dramatic drop in vaccinations due to supply and delivery problems.

At least three states, including Maharashtra, home to the commercial capital of Mumbai, have reported a scarcity of vaccines, shutting down some vaccination centres.

India's opposition has called for a nationwide lockdown, but the government is reluctant to impose a shutdown for fear of the economic fallout, although several states have imposed social curbs.

Medical experts say the actual numbers of dead and infected in India could be five to 10 times the official tallies. The country added 10 million cases in just over four months, after taking more than 10 months to reach the first 10 million.

Daily testing in India has fallen sharply to 1.5 million, state-run Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) said on Wednesday. It hit a peak of 1.95 million on Saturday.

Public health experts believe India will not reach herd immunity any time soon but say hospitalisations and deaths will reduce significantly in six to nine months, according to a report in The Economic Times.

Cricket officials suspended the hugely popular, money-spinning Indian Premier League (IPL) on Tuesday as players tested positive.

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