'Hasn't peaked yet': Worst still to come in India's Covid crisis

·3-min read

India’s coronavirus crisis has reached terrifying new heights. The nation’s 362,757 new infections on Wednesday marked a new global record, as experts warn the worst is still to come.

India crossed a grim milestone of 200,000 people lost to Covid as a devastating surge of new infections tore through dense cities and rural areas alike, overwhelming healthcare systems on the brink of collapse.

The health ministry on Wednesday reported a single-day record of 3293 deaths in the last 24 hours, bringing India's total fatalities to 201,187.

Health workers wearing personal protective equipment (PPE kit) attends to Covid-19 coronavirus positive patients inside a banquet hall temporarily converted into a covid care centre in New Delhi on April 28, 2021. (Photo by Prakash SINGH / AFP) (Photo by PRAKASH SINGH/AFP via Getty Images)
India thought it had weathered the worst of the pandemic last year, but the virus is now racing through its population and systems are beginning to collapse. Source: Getty

Vital medical supplies began to reach the virus-ravaged country on Tuesday as hospitals starved of life-saving oxygen and beds turned away coronavirus patients.

A shipment from Britain, including 100 ventilators and 95 oxygen concentrators, arrived in the capital New Delhi.

France is sending eight large oxygen-generating plants this week while Ireland, Germany and Australia are dispatching oxygen concentrators and ventilators, an Indian foreign ministry official said, underlining the crucial need for oxygen.

TOPSHOT - Family members and relatives prepare the funeral pyre of victims who died of the Covid-19 coronavirus during mass cremation held at a crematorium in New Delhi on April 27, 2021. (Photo by Prakash SINGH / AFP) (Photo by PRAKASH SINGH/AFP via Getty Images)
A surge in infections has pushed the death toll past 200,000. Source: Getty

India still at the 'front end' of Covid battle

US President Joe Biden reaffirmed US commitment to helping India, saying he was expecting to send vaccines there while senior officials from his administration warned that the country was still at the "front end" of the crisis.

The US State Department's coordinator for global Covid-19 response, Gayle Smith, said India’s battle with the virus was only beginning.

"We all need to understand that we are still at the front end of this,” she said.

“This hasn't peaked yet.”

India, a country of nearly 1.4 billion people, is the fourth to cross 200,000 deaths behind the United States, Brazil and Mexico.

For the past week, more than 2000 Indians have died every day.

MUMBAI, INDIA  APRIL 27: People wait in a queue to get vaccinated against Covid-19 at BKC Jumbo Covid-19 Vaccination Centre, on April 27, 2021 in Mumbai, India. (Photo by Satish Bate/Hindustan Times via Getty Images)
Hundreds of people wait in a queue to get vaccinated against Covid-19 at a vaccination centre in Mumbai. Source: Getty

Health experts say huge gatherings during Hindu festivals and mammoth election rallies in some states have accelerated the unprecedented surge India is now seeing.

They also say the government's mixed messaging and its premature declarations of victory over the virus encouraged people to relax when they should have continued strict adherence to physical distancing, wearing masks and avoiding large crowds.

Australia halted direct passenger flights from India until May 15, joining other nations taking steps to keep out more virulent variants of the virus.

India has an official tally of 17.64 million infections, but experts believe the real number runs much higher.

- with AP and Reuters

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