India hits new COVID-19 infection and fatality records as pressure grows for lockdowns

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India set another global COVID-19 record Friday, reporting 414,188 new confirmed cases in the past 24 hours plus 3,915 new deaths. Both numbers are believed to be significant undercounts. With daily deaths remaining above 3,800 for the past 10 days and hospitals running out of beds, oxygen, and other critical […]

India set another global COVID-19 record Friday, reporting 414,188 new confirmed cases in the past 24 hours plus 3,915 new deaths. Both numbers are believed to be significant undercounts. With daily deaths remaining above 3,800 for the past 10 days and hospitals running out of beds, oxygen, and other critical supplies, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is facing increasing pressure to put the country back under lockdown for 2-4 weeks or launch some other coordinated central response to the pandemic.

An earlier strict lockdown is credited with India’s success, until March, in containing the coronavirus outbreaks, but it took a terrible economic toll on India and especially its poorest citizens. Modi so far has left it up to India’s 28 states to set their own mitigation measures, and fewer than a dozen have instituted some lesser restrictions.

India isn’t alone in battling new variant-driven waves of COVID-19, and Egypt, Turkey, and other countries are “trying to ensure they aren’t hit by an India-style disaster,” The Associated Press reports. “They face many of the same risks, including large populations that have shirked restrictions and fragile health systems shaken under the strain.” In wealthier nations, aggressive vaccination campaigns have sent cases and deaths on downward trajectories.

Worldwide, however, there have been more COVID-19 cases reported over the past two weeks than in the first six months of the pandemic, World Health Organization director general Tedros Adhanom said. India and Brazil account for a large share of those numbers, “but there are many other countries all over the world that face a very fragile situation,” he added. “What is happening in India and Brazil could happen elsewhere unless we all take these public health precautions.”

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