New coronavirus cases in India dropped marginally on Sunday, but deaths from COVID-19 jumped to a record 3,689, with yet another state going into blockade, as the country’s fragile health system is unable to cope with the enormous number of cases.
Authorities reported 392,488 new cases in the previous 24 hours, bringing the total number of cases to 19.56 million. So far, the virus has killed 215,542 people. India reported a record 401,993 new cases of coronavirus on Saturday.
Indian hospitals, morgues and crematoriums are overburdened, as the country has reported more than 300,000 daily cases for more than 10 consecutive days. Many families were left alone to fight for medicine and oxygen. Dozens of people died in the past week due to a lack of oxygen in hospitals in Delhi alone.
Nearly 10 Indian states and territories have imposed some form of restriction, although the federal government remains reluctant to impose a national blockade.
The eastern state of Odisha became the last to announce a two-week blockade, joining Delhi, Maharashtra, Karnataka and West Bengal. Other states, including Uttar Pradesh, Telangana, Assam, Andhra Pradesh and Rajasthan have imposed night curfews or weekend blocks.
The Indian Express newspaper reported on Sunday that the country’s task force COVID-19 advised the federal government to impose a national blockade.
Last month, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that every effort should be made to avoid a blockade.
The federal government fears that another blockade will have a devastating impact on the economy. The blockade imposed last year after the first outbreak of COVID-19 led to job losses, as economic output fell a record 24 percent in April-June 2020 compared to the same period last year.
The huge increase in cases has also led to a reduction in medical personnel and, according to media reports, the government plans to encourage medical and nursing students to help with the COVID-19 facilities.
With India’s healthcare system staggering and workplace absenteeism skyrocketing – as employees fall ill or care for relatives – international aid has begun to arrive.
On Sunday, Britain’s Foreign Minister Dominic Raab said he would send more fans to India “very soon”.
Countries, including the United States, have shipped essential oxygen equipment, therapeutic products and raw materials for vaccine production.
Modi’s government has been criticized for allowing millions of largely unmasked people to participate in religious festivals and political rallies in five states during March and April. Daily cases in these states have increased since then.
Reuters reported on Saturday that a government-created scientific advisory forum alerted Indian authorities in early March of a new and more contagious variant of the coronavirus occurring in the country.