04/15/2021, 16.53
INDIA
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COVID-19: queues at hospitals and cremation sites

The daily toll tops 200,000 cases a day. The pandemic is spreading rapidly even outside Maharashtra, the most affected state. A curfew will come into force in the capital on the weekend. Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine gets the green light. Local production of AstraZeneca is far below three 3 million doses a day.

AsiaNews/Agencies) – There is no sign that the pandemic surge in India is slowing down. The latest toll broke the umpteenth psychological barrier with more than 200,000 cases and 1,038 deaths in 24 hours.

What worries many Indians is that the rapid spread of the virus is not only affecting Maharashtra, but also other parts of the country.

Following the imposition of restrictions in Mumbai, a curfew is set to come into force over the weekend in the Indian capital of Delhi, which reported 13,500 new cases and 104 deaths yesterday alone. Similar measures are being envisaged in other Indian states.

The pressure on hospitals is very high. To relieve it, two five-star hotels have been requisitioned in Mumbai to isolate patients with mild symptoms.

However, health facilities are warning that they are running of oxygen tanks in intensive care units, this despite government reassurances that they have enough supplies.

Meanwhile, long queues of people have formed outside emergency departments, while cremation sites cannot keep up with demand.

Shortages are being reported for remdesivir, an antiviral drug used to treat coronavirus, even though it is manufactured in India.

The government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi is throwing everything in its vaccination campaign, which is progressing at a rate of over three million per day; so far, about 114 million people have been vaccinated.

Yet, despite a sharp drop in vaccine exports in recent weeks, India is still unable to cope with demand. It is currently estimated that the Serum Institute in Pune (which makes the AstraZeneca vaccine) and Bharat Biotech can produce only 2.4 million doses per day.

For this reason, India’s Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation has given the green light to the use of Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine, to be combined with the two Indian-made. But the first Russian shipment is not expected before mid-May, while local production should kick in in July.

The controversy caused by the presence of hundreds of thousands of people in Haridwar, on the Ganges, for the Kumbh Mela festival continues unabated. At least, 1,701 people have tested positive for the SARS-CoV-2 virus in connection with the Hindu pilgrimage.

In light of this, in Karnataka local authorities have decided to test and quarantine people returning from the Kumbh Mela.

After the controversy over unequal treatment of religions, the Delhi High Court ruled in favour of the reopening of the Nizamuddin mosque for prayer for up to 50 worshippers five times a day.

The "Situation is getting grim[er] day by day. But since all religious places are open, this (mosque) also had to be opened," the Court said.

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