India suffers 3,689 Covid deaths in record day of fatalities as hospitals and crematoriums overwhelmed

INDIA suffered 3,689 Covid deaths today – the highest number it has recorded in a single day.

The country is battling a “tsunami” of coronavirus infections with the crisis overwhelmed hospitals and crematoriums where bodies are being burned en masse.

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Authorities reported 392,488 new cases in the previous 24 hours to push total cases to 19.56 million.

So far, the virus has killed 215,542 people although scientists and funeral directors believe the real number is much higher in a country with nearly 1.4 billion people.

India has reported more than 300,000 daily cases for more than 10 days straight. Many families have been left on their own to scramble for medicines and oxygen.

Nearly 10 Indian states and union territories have imposed some form of restrictions, even as the federal government remains reluctant to impose a national lockdown.

The eastern state of Odisha became the latest to announce a two-week lockdown, joining Delhi, Maharashtra, Karnataka and West Bengal.

Other states, including Uttar Pradesh, Telangana, Assam, Andhra Pradesh and Rajasthan, have either imposed night curfews or weekend lockdowns.

The Indian Express newspaper reported today that the country's Covid-19 taskforce has advised the federal government to impose a national lockdown.

Last month Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said all efforts should be made be avoid a lockdown.

The government fears another shutdown will have a devastating impact on the economy after last year's lockdown led to job losses as economic output fell a record 24 per cent in the second quarter of 2020 compared with the same period in 2019.

Modi's government has been criticised for letting millions of largely unmasked people attend religious festivals and crowded political rallies in five states through March and April.

Daily cases in these states have spiked since then.

The federal government has reportedly been accused of failing to respond to a warning in early March from its own scientific advisers that a new and more contagious mutant variant was taking hold in the country.

India is the world's largest producer of vaccines, but is still struggling to get supplies to its 1.4 billion population.

Modi hosted an emergency cabinet meeting on Friday, and it was announced today that all adults over 18 were to be vaccinated.

Meanwhile, a fire at a specialist Covid hospital in the western state of Gujarat killed at least 18 people on Friday.

The blaze started around midnight in the intensive care ward of the Patel Welfare Hospital – a designated pandemic facility – in Bharuch city.

A dozen people were reported killed after another deadly fire in a hospital in a suburb of Mumbai on April 23.

And some 22 patients also died at a public hospital in Maharashtra in Mumbai when oxygen supplies ran out due to a leaking tank.

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