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World Indian government faces lockdown calls, contempt charges

08:50  05 may  2021
08:50  05 may  2021 Source:   msn.com

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NEW DELHI (AP) — India's government faced calls for a strict lockdown to slow a devastating surge in new coronaviorus cases, and a court in New Delhi on Wednesday will decide whether to punish officials for failing to end a 2-week-old erratic supply of oxygen to overstretched hospitals.

FILE - In this May 3, 2021, file photo, a man walks carrying a refilled cylinder as family members of COVID-19 patients wait in queue to refill their oxygen cylinders at Mayapuri area in New Delhi, India. COVID-19 infections and deaths are mounting with alarming speed in India with no end in sight to the crisis. People are dying because of shortages of bottled oxygen and hospital beds or because they couldn’t get a COVID-19 test. (AP Photo/Ishant Chauhan, File) © Provided by Associated Press FILE - In this May 3, 2021, file photo, a man walks carrying a refilled cylinder as family members of COVID-19 patients wait in queue to refill their oxygen cylinders at Mayapuri area in New Delhi, India. COVID-19 infections and deaths are mounting with alarming speed in India with no end in sight to the crisis. People are dying because of shortages of bottled oxygen and hospital beds or because they couldn’t get a COVID-19 test. (AP Photo/Ishant Chauhan, File) Health workers carry the body of a person who died of COVID-19 outside a field hospital in Mumbai, India, Tuesday, May 4, 2021. COVID-19 infections and deaths are mounting with alarming speed in India with no end in sight to the crisis. (AP Photo/Rafiq Maqbool) © Provided by Associated Press Health workers carry the body of a person who died of COVID-19 outside a field hospital in Mumbai, India, Tuesday, May 4, 2021. COVID-19 infections and deaths are mounting with alarming speed in India with no end in sight to the crisis. (AP Photo/Rafiq Maqbool)

With 382,315 new confirmed cases, India's tally has risen to more than 20.6 million since the pandemic began. The Health Ministry on Wednesday also reported 3,780 deaths in the last 24 hours, bringing the total to 226,188. Experts believe both figures are an undercount.

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Rahul Gandhi, a leader of the opposition Congress party, said this week "a lockdown is now the only option because of a complete lack of strategy by the Indian government.”

The New Delhi High Court will decide whether to press contempt charges against officials for defying its order to meet oxygen requirements of more than 40 hospitals in the capital. Those found guilty face six months in prison or a fine.

The court summoned two Home Ministry officials for Wednesday's hearing.

"You can put your head in the sand like an ostrich, we will not. We are not going to take no for an answer,” Justices Vipin Sanghi and Rekha Palli said.

The grim reality is that hospitals are reducing the number of beds and asking patients to move elsewhere, the judges said. The court is hearing petitions filed by several hospitals and nursing homes struggling with irregular oxygen supplies.

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FILE - In this April 27, 2021, file photo, health workers bring a patient to be admitted at a government COVID-19 hospital in Ahmedabad, India. The country has witnessed scenes of people dying outside overwhelmed hospitals, funeral pyres lighting up the night sky and authorities getting requests to cut down trees in parks because crematoriums have run out of fuel. (AP Photo/Ajit Solanki, File) © Provided by Associated Press FILE - In this April 27, 2021, file photo, health workers bring a patient to be admitted at a government COVID-19 hospital in Ahmedabad, India. The country has witnessed scenes of people dying outside overwhelmed hospitals, funeral pyres lighting up the night sky and authorities getting requests to cut down trees in parks because crematoriums have run out of fuel. (AP Photo/Ajit Solanki, File)

Raghav Chaddha, a spokesman for the Aam Aadmi Party governing New Delhi, said hospitals were getting only 40% of their 700 metric tons (772 U.S. tons) requirements through the federal government, and the local government was arranging additional supplies to meet the shortfall and setting up new oxygen plants.

The latest wave of infections since April has pushed India’s health care to the brink with people begging for oxygen cylinders and hospital beds on social media and news channels.

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  India launches effort to inoculate all adults against COVID NEW DELHI (AP) — In hopes of taming a monstrous spike in COVID-19 infections, India opened vaccinations to all adults Saturday, launching a huge inoculation effort that was sure to tax the limits of the federal government, the country's vaccine factories and the patience of its 1.4 billion people. The world's largest maker of vaccines was still short of critical supplies — the result of lagging manufacturing and raw material shortages that delayed the rollout in several states. And even in places where the shots were in stock, the country’s wide economic disparities made access to the vaccine inconsistent.

Bodies have been piling up at cremation grounds and in graveyards with relatives waiting for hours for the last rites.

Dileep Kumar, a student, said he was asked by hospital authorities to shift his father to another hospital in Ghaziabad, a town on the outskirts of New Delhi, after it ran out of oxygen on Tuesday.

Authorities are scrambling to add more beds, sending oxygen from one corner of the country to another, and scaling up manufacturing of the few drugs effective against COVID-19.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government is reluctant to impose a national lockdown for fear of the economic fallout. Modi said last month that it should be the last resort.

FILE - In this April 29, 2021, file photo, relatives react to heat emitting from the multiple funeral pyres of COVID-19 victims at a crematorium in the outskirts of New Delhi, India. COVID-19 infections and deaths are mounting with alarming speed in India with no end in sight to the crisis. People are dying because of shortages of bottled oxygen and hospital beds or because they couldn’t get a COVID-19 test. (AP Photo/Amit Sharma, File) © Provided by Associated Press FILE - In this April 29, 2021, file photo, relatives react to heat emitting from the multiple funeral pyres of COVID-19 victims at a crematorium in the outskirts of New Delhi, India. COVID-19 infections and deaths are mounting with alarming speed in India with no end in sight to the crisis. People are dying because of shortages of bottled oxygen and hospital beds or because they couldn’t get a COVID-19 test. (AP Photo/Amit Sharma, File)

But nearly a dozen states have imposed curbs on their own.

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The most populous state of Uttar Pradesh, with 200 million people, implemented a five-day lockdown this week. The country’s second and third most populated states of Maharashtra and Bihar are also under lockdown with varying curbs.

Efforts to scale up the vaccination drive are hampered by the shortage of doses. India, a country of 1.4 billion, has so far administered 160 million doses.

The global community is extending a helping hand. The United States, Britain, Germany and several other nations are rushing therapeutics, rapid virus tests and oxygen to India, along with some materials needed for India to boost its domestic production of COVID-19 vaccines.

A woman who was turned back following shortage of COVID-19 vaccine argues with a doctor at a vaccination center in Mumbai, India, Monday, May. 3, 2021. COVID-19 infections and deaths are mounting with alarming speed in India with no end in sight to the crisis and a top expert warning that the coming weeks in the country of nearly 1.4 billion people will be “horrible.” (AP Photo/Rafiq Maqbool) © Provided by Associated Press A woman who was turned back following shortage of COVID-19 vaccine argues with a doctor at a vaccination center in Mumbai, India, Monday, May. 3, 2021. COVID-19 infections and deaths are mounting with alarming speed in India with no end in sight to the crisis and a top expert warning that the coming weeks in the country of nearly 1.4 billion people will be “horrible.” (AP Photo/Rafiq Maqbool) An Indian man wearing face mask as a precaution against the coronavirus waits to enter a goverment Hospital in Jammu, India, Tuesday, May 4, 2021. COVID-19 infections and deaths are mounting with alarming speed in India with no end in sight to the crisis. (AP Photo/Channi Anand) © Provided by Associated Press An Indian man wearing face mask as a precaution against the coronavirus waits to enter a goverment Hospital in Jammu, India, Tuesday, May 4, 2021. COVID-19 infections and deaths are mounting with alarming speed in India with no end in sight to the crisis. (AP Photo/Channi Anand)

India Covid-19: Fauci joins calls for nationwide lockdown .
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is under increasing pressure to impose a nationwide lockdown as the country grapples with the world's worst Covid-19 outbreak.On Monday, India reported 366,161 new cases, its health ministry said -- the first time daily infections have dipped below 400,000 since May 6. Its total caseload is now more than 22 million since the pandemic began.

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