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As COVID-19 rages in India, scientist warns further waves 'inevitable'

CoronavirusMay 05, 2021 10:26PM ET
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2/2 © Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Healthcare workers wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) stand outside a donning area at a COVID-19 care facility, amidst the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Mumbai, India, May 4, 2021. REUTERS/Niharika Kulkarni 2/2

By Tanvi Mehta

NEW DELHI (Reuters) -A top scientific adviser to the Indian government warned on Wednesday the country would inevitably face further waves of the coronavirus pandemic, as almost 4,000 people died in the space of a day.

With hospitals scrabbling for beds and oxygen in response to a deadly second surge in infections, the World Health Organization said in a weekly report that India accounted for nearly half the coronavirus cases reported worldwide last week and a quarter of the deaths.

Many people have died in ambulances and car parks waiting for a bed or oxygen, while morgues and crematoriums struggle to deal with a seemingly unstoppable flow of bodies.

The government's principal scientific adviser, K. VijayRaghavan, warned that even after infection rates subside the country should be ready for a third wave.

"Phase 3 is inevitable, given the high levels of circulating virus," he told a news briefing. "But it is not clear on what timescale this phase 3 will occur... We should prepare for new waves."

Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government has been widely criticised for not acting sooner to suppress the second wave, after religious festivals and political rallies drew tens of thousands of people in recent weeks and became "super spreader" events.

"We are running out of air. We are dying," the Booker Prize-winning author Arundhati Roy wrote in an opinion piece that called for Modi to step down.

"This is a crisis of your making," she added in the article published on Tuesday. "You cannot solve it. You can only make it worse....So please go."

India's delegation to the Group of Seven foreign ministers' meeting in London is self-isolating after two of its members tested positive for COVID-19, Britain said on Wednesday

Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, who is in London, said in a Twitter message that he would attend virtually.

GOVERNMENT RESISTING LOCKDOWN

Deaths rose by a record 3,780 during the past 24 hours, health ministry data showed, and daily infections rose by 382,315 on Wednesday. The number has been in excess of 300,000 every day for the past two weeks.

Medical experts say India's actual figures could be five to 10 times the official tallies. The country has added 10 million cases in just over four months, after taking more than 10 months to reach its first 10 million.

The opposition has urged a nationwide lockdown, but the government is reluctant to impose one for fear of the economic fallout, although several states have adopted social curbs.

In the latest move the eastern state of West Bengal, where voters dealt Modi's party a defeat in an election last week, suspended local train services and limited working hours for banks and jewellery shops, among its steps to limit infections.

The central bank asked banks on Wednesday to allow more time for some borrowers to repay loans, as the crisis threatens a nascent economic revival.

FALL IN VACCINATIONS, TESTING

The surge in infections has coincided with a dramatic drop in vaccinations because of supply and delivery problems, despite India being a major vaccine producer.

At least three states, including Maharashtra, home to the commercial capital of Mumbai, have reported a scarcity of vaccines, shutting down some inoculation centres.

Lengthy queues formed outside two centres in the western city that still have vaccine supplies, and some of those waiting pleaded for police to open their gates earlier.

The government said production capacity for the antiviral drug remdesivir, used to treat COVID-19 patients, has trebled to 10.3 million vials per month, up from 3.8 million vials a month ago.

But daily testing has fallen sharply to 1.5 million, state-run Indian Council of Medical Research said, off a peak of 1.95 million on Saturday.

OUTBREAK SPREADING

Two "oxygen express" trains carrying liquid oxygen arrived in the capital, New Delhi, on Wednesday, railways minister Piyush Goyal said on Twitter. More than 25 trains have distributed oxygen supplies nationwide.

The government says supplies are sufficient but transport woes have hindered distribution.

Meanwhile, the outbreak continues to spread.

In the remote state of Mizoram bordering Myanmar, beds in its biggest coronavirus hospital are in such short supply that all victims of other diseases have been asked to leave, said government official Dr Z R Thiamsanga.

Just three of a total 14 ventilators were still available.

"In my opinion, a complete lockdown is required to control the situation," he told Reuters from the state capital, Aizawl.

Neighbouring Nepal is also being overwhelmed by a surge of infections as India's outbreak spreads across South Asia, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies said.

With 57 times as many cases as a month ago, Nepal is seeing 44% of tests come back positive, it added. Towns near the border with India are unable to cope with the growing numbers seeking treatment, while just 1% of its population was fully vaccinated.

As COVID-19 rages in India, scientist warns further waves 'inevitable'
 

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Comments (19)
Charlie Norton
Charlie Norton May 05, 2021 11:06PM ET
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Who cares. Anybody with half a functioning braincell knows that the only people still milking the cases are government, pharmaceutical companies, and the media. There is a reason why they are handing out free donuts, hot dogs, beer after getting the vaccine, while the number one comorbidity that causes mortality with COVID is obesity and the number one comorbidity for death in the world is obesity. The highest risk group for COVID deat.hs is 80+ year olds, who have a 95% survival rate with COVID. Do you know what the likelihood of d.ying is if you are 80 years old of all causes? Around 5%. Not sure if people know this, but people died before COVID. COVID is the least of the world's concerns right now, should have spent this money addressing obesity in the first world and starvation in the third world. No money for pharma companies or power for government to grab doing that, though.
danny Levine
danny Levine May 05, 2021 11:06PM ET
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exactly! well said my brother!
Charlie Norton
Charlie Norton May 05, 2021 11:06PM ET
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*5-10% death rate among 80 year olds of all causes
Charlie Norton
Charlie Norton May 05, 2021 11:06PM ET
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danny Levine  And 5% is an understatement for the mortality of people who are 80-years-old. It is not meant to be disrespectful, but we live in a society that does not live in reality. 80-years-old is above the national average life expectancy in the US. Once you are over 80, your chance of surviving year to year drops quickly. And even in that age group, the survival rate after testing positive for COVID is 95%. There was ZERO change in demographics of people who di.ed in 2020 compared to other years. COVID seems to have magically cured every other cause of de.ath. Apparently if you test positive for COVID you do not d.ie from anything else...miracle!
Adil Khan
Adil Khan May 05, 2021 11:06PM ET
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You dont seem to posses even half a brain cell
Rick Baier
Rick Baier May 05, 2021 10:38PM ET
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What should the world do if it's found out that this actually was released from a Lab in Wuhan China?
danny Levine
danny Levine May 05, 2021 10:38PM ET
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there's nothing special about this covid from other flu viruses. there's no more deaths globally than previous years. such a B.S. "pandemic"
Kwong To
Kwong To May 05, 2021 10:38PM ET
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Trying to fan hatred, Trump boot licker?
Ramesh Shah
Ramesh Shah May 05, 2021 6:28PM ET
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India will come thru this pandemic and no need to criticise only Modi, other politicians are in it for money only
Shameem Khan
Shameem Khan May 05, 2021 6:28PM ET
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You are true bhagat who worship Modi only credit. Goes to modi. Not blame
Akshay Batavia
Akshay Batavia May 05, 2021 2:12PM ET
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Economy is more important than Human life. Shame on a government who is chasing money. if we will not survive who will enjoy this money. if Control covid then Toatal lock down at least 45 Days. if not the more pain ahead.
danny Levine
danny Levine May 05, 2021 2:12PM ET
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do you not care about the lives of starving Indians? lockdowns will literally kiill them
Alan Rice
Alan Rice May 05, 2021 1:37PM ET
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Indians: Religion without "common sense" = insanity. (Reconsider Cremation ??)
naren singh
naren singh May 05, 2021 11:09AM ET
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Its careless people of india responsible for spread.States where no elections rallies goes more infections.Opposition party leaders disguised people for vaccination and distroyed more than 40 lacs doses in waste.No oxygen is going to hospitals rather going in black market.Every thing is created.
Rohan Da
Rohan Da May 05, 2021 10:50AM ET
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making money out of dead man
danny Levine
danny Levine May 05, 2021 10:13AM ET
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the media and big pharma will not stop spreading fear because of the profits they rake in
Shah Stocks
Shah Stocks May 05, 2021 10:08AM ET
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Govt has surely been a setback in this time of crisis. for them more election and rallies where more than 1 lakh people were gathered was more imp. it's one of the Biggest cause of the deadliest second wave in India. other than that, kumbh mela where more than 3 lakh people were accumulated could be the biggest superspreader. Fingers crossed. Hoping all this is settled sooner.
Del Stel
Del Stel May 05, 2021 9:55AM ET
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"Believe None of What You Hear AND Half of What See". Follow the DATA.  Make SURE that it comes from a reputable source.  Do real home work if you want to discover truth.  It does take time.  Also, go take a course Probably and Statistic.  Because theres three kind lies - "Lies, ******Lies, and Statistics".  That was was hung on my STATISTICS prof's wall.
Del Stel
Del Stel May 05, 2021 9:55AM ET
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******Lies = Dam Lies - the censor did not like my MILD profanity
danny Levine
danny Levine May 05, 2021 9:55AM ET
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lol so what? lockdown again? india has bigger issues to solve than a small flu
CHAD TENDIES
CHAD TENDIES May 05, 2021 8:56AM ET
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Scamdemic
Harish Jariwala
Harish Jariwala May 05, 2021 8:43AM ET
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Reporters of Reuters have to check data of casualties around the world first,than publish garbage news,Arundhati Roy ,who is she ? she have no rights to speak against P.M.modi, he is doing hard work for save his citizen of India,problem is so many agents,are criticize our P.M.
Harish Jariwala
Harish Jariwala May 05, 2021 8:42AM ET
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Reporters of Reuters have to check data of casualties around the world first,than publish garbage news,Arundhati Roy ,who is she ? she have no rights to speak against P.M.modi, he is doing hard work for save his citizen of India,problem is so many agents,lobbiest gather and criticize our P.M.
Dave Tromp
Dave Tromp May 05, 2021 6:57AM ET
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@https://investing.com please stop spreading Reuters propaganda. You start to be like Bloomberg.
Investing Man
Investing Man May 05, 2021 6:42AM ET
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Its hard to gauge india from the outside but to me its always appeared that their government leaders are intentionally suppressing their population
GJ DJT
GJDJT May 05, 2021 6:42AM ET
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it's population control, the ruling class is already vaccinated. let unwanted expire just like drumpf did to veterans and colored.
Kelly Mayer
Kelly Mayer May 05, 2021 5:10AM ET
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Mortality per million is one of the lowest in the world. but fear sells so i get that reuters wants to feed this garbage onto people.
Jozef Drozd
Jozef Drozd May 05, 2021 5:10AM ET
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Propaganda , fear mongering to make people  accept the  mRNA garbage called vaccines. In India with population over 1.3 Bil. , every day die about 33 000 people from different causes .
perplexed76 .
perplexed76 . May 05, 2021 5:10AM ET
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have you heard about excess mortality in the world in 2020-21?
Pedro Trost
Pedro Trost May 05, 2021 3:14AM ET
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More like more scare tactics. India is plagued by the flu every year
Catholic Man
CatholicMan May 05, 2021 2:15AM ET
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Let us pray that their leaders are as good as President Trump.
GJ DJT
GJDJT May 05, 2021 2:15AM ET
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let those unwanted to expire while safeguard yourself. such selfish ass.
Investing Man
Investing Man May 05, 2021 2:15AM ET
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GJ DJT hes chinese. They hate india
 
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