Help promised as India’s COVID crisis worsens | The mail

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New coronavirus infections in India hit a record high for a fifth day on Monday as countries such as Britain, Germany and the United States pledged to send urgent medical aid to fight the crisis that overwhelms its hospitals. Infections in the past 24 hours have risen to 352,991, with overcrowded hospitals in Delhi and elsewhere turning away patients after running out of medical oxygen supplies and beds. “Currently the hospital is in demand and loan mode and it is an extreme crisis situation,” said a spokesperson for Sir Ganga Ram Hospital in the capital. Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday urged all citizens to get vaccinated and exercise caution, while hospitals and doctors issued urgent notices saying they were unable to cope with the rush of patients. In some of the worst-hit cities, including the capital, bodies were set on fire in makeshift facilities providing mass services. NDTV broadcast footage of three health workers from eastern Bihar state pulling a body on the ground on its way to cremation as stretchers were missing. “If you’ve never been to a cremation, the smell of death never leaves you,” Vipin Narang, professor of political science at MIT in the United States, said on Twitter. “My heart breaks for all of my friends and family in Delhi and India who are going through this hell.” President Joe Biden said on Sunday that the United States will send raw materials for vaccines, medical supplies and protective gear to India. Germany has also joined a growing list of countries pledging to send supplies. India, with a population of 1.3 billion, has a total of 17.31 million infections and 195,123 deaths, after 2,812 overnight deaths, according to data from the Ministry of Health. But health experts say the death toll is likely much higher. Politicians, especially Modi, have come under fire for staging rallies in which thousands of people participated, huddled together in stadiums and fields, despite a brutal second wave of infections. Several cities have ordered curfews, while police have been deployed to enforce social distancing and the wearing of masks. Still, around 8.6 million voters were due to vote on Monday in the eastern state of West Bengal, in the penultimate part of an eight-phase election that ends this week. Voting for local elections in other parts of India included the most populous state of Uttar Pradesh, which reported an average of 30,000 infections per day. Australian Associated Press

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