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.
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.
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.
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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