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India adds 379,000 more cases of virus, tries to vaccinate more

India has set another global record for new virus cases, with millions of people in one state voting despite rising infections

NEW DELHI – India set another global record for new virus cases on Thursday, when millions of people in one state voted despite rising infections and the country prepared to open its vaccination distribution to all adults amid obstacles.

With 379,257 new infections, India has now reported more than 18.3 million cases, second only to the United States. The Ministry of Health also recorded 3,645 deaths in the last 24 hours, bringing the total to 204,832. Experts believe that both numbers are a lower count, but it is unclear how much.

India has set a daily global record for seven of the past eight days, with a moving average of almost 350,000 infections in seven days. Daily deaths have almost tripled in the past three weeks, reflecting the intensity of the most recent wave. And the country’s already faltering health system is under enormous pressure, which has prompted several allies to send aid.

A country of almost 1.4 billion people, India thought the worst was over when cases eased in September. But mass public meetings, such as political rallies and religious events that could continue, and relaxed attitudes about the risks fed by leaders who preached victory over the virus, led to what has now become a major humanitarian crisis, health experts say. New variants of the coronavirus also partially led the increase.

In the midst of the crisis, voting for the eighth and final phase of West Bengal’s state elections began on Thursday, even as the devastating rise in infections continued to spread across the country with ferocious speed, filling crematoriums and cemeteries.

More than 8 million people are expected to vote at least 11,860 polling stations across the state. The Electoral Commission said that social distance measures would be in place.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Bharatiya Janata Party have faced criticism in recent weeks for holding large electoral rallies in the state, which health experts suggest may have spurred the increase there as well. Other political parties also participated in rallies.

The state has recorded more than 17,000 cases in the past 24 hours – the biggest peak since the pandemic began.

As of Wednesday, all Indians aged 18 and over were able to register for a government application for vaccination, but social networks were inundated with complaints that the application had crashed due to high usage and when it went back to work , there was no markup.

Vaccines are due to start on Saturday, but India, one of the world’s largest vaccine producers, still does not have enough doses for everyone. Even the ongoing effort to inoculate people over 45 is stuttering.

One state, Maharashtra, has said it will not be able to start on Saturday.

Since January, almost 10% of Indians have received an injection, but only about 1.5% have received the two necessary doses.

Amid acute shortages of oxygen and other hospital supplies, the White House said the United States would ship more than $ 100 million in items, including 1,000 oxygen cylinders, 15 million N95 masks and 1 million rapid diagnostic tests. He said they would start arriving on Thursday, just days after President Joe Biden promised to increase assistance.

The United States and Britain have already shipped a shipment of medical items. France, Germany, Russia, Ireland and Australia have also promised aid.

Meanwhile, the United States has advised its citizens to leave India. An alert on the US Embassy website warned that “access to all types of medical care is becoming severely limited in India due to the increase in COVID-19 cases.”

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