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India sees new record rise in daily COVID cases and 1,619 deaths | Coronavirus pandemic News


India reports 273,810 new cases, taking its overall caseload past 15 million and a record 1,619 deaths to reach a total of 178,769.

India has reported a record rise in coronavirus infections of 273,810, as hospitals across the country struggle with a shortage of hospital beds and oxygen supplies and capital New Delhi announces a complete curfew starting Monday night.

India’s overall coronavirus caseload is now past 15 million, second only to the United States globally. The country’s deaths from COVID-19 rose by a record 1,619 to reach a total of 178,769, according to health ministry data.

Indian social media was flooded with people complaining about the lack of beds, oxygen cylinders and drugs, and citizen groups circulating helpline numbers and volunteering support.

Maharashtra is the worst-affected state, with data showing more than 68,000 new infections there in the past 24 hours.

Despite soaring infections, politicians continued to hold mass rallies across the country for state elections.

Criticism has mounted over how Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s administration has handled India’s second wave of the pandemic, with religious festivals and election rallies being attended by thousands.

Leaders including Home Minister Amit Shah are set to hold further road shows and public meetings on Monday.

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi – who has also addressed election rallies in recent weeks – said on Sunday he was suspending all his public rallies in West Bengal, which is in the middle of polls.

Indian media reports on Monday said Modi will chair an “important meeting” on Monday on “COVID-related situation” as Maharashtra’s ruling Shiv Sena party demanded a special session of India’s Parliament to discuss the coronavirus crisis.

A health worker adjusts an oxygen cylinder that is being used for coronavirus patients at a private hospital in Prayagraj, Uttar Pradesh state [Sanjay Kanojia/AFP]

In capital New Delhi, the worst-hit Indian city with more than 25,000 cases reported in the past 24 hours, authorities have announced a complete week-long curfew from Monday night, with only essential services allowed to operate.

Several major market associations in the city, which is among the country’s worst hit, have announced that they will keep their markets closed till April 25.

Delhi state’s Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal tweeted late on Sunday that there was an “acute shortage of oxygen”, adding in capital letters that “oxygen has become an emergency” in the megalopolis.

“The cases are rising very fast … only 100 beds left,” Kejriwal said earlier on Sunday in a video statement.

Kejriwal said additional beds would be set up at some schools and a sport complex.

His government added that millions of pilgrims who attended an ongoing Hindu festival, the Kumbh Mela, had to quarantine for two weeks if they returned to New Delhi.

Nearly 3,700 people have tested positive in the past week in the city of Haridwar, which lies along the Ganges river where the Kumbh Mela festival is being observed, the Uttarakhand state government said.

Health experts have warned the pilgrimage could become a “super-spreader” event.

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