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Gandhi warns 'explosive' COVID wave threatens India and the world

CoronavirusMay 07, 2021 05:35PM ET
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2/2 © Reuters. People receive oxygen support for free at a Gurudwara (Sikh temple), amidst the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Ghaziabad, India, May 6, 2021. REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui 2/2

By Nivedita Bhattacharjee and Anuron Kumar Mitra

BENGALURU (Reuters) -India's main opposition leader Rahul Gandhi warned on Friday that unless the deadly second COVID-19 wave sweeping the country was brought under control it would devastate India as well as threaten the rest of the world.

In a letter, Gandhi implored Prime Minister Narendra Modi to prepare for another national lockdown, accelerate a countrywide vaccination programme and scientifically track the virus and its mutations.

Gandhi said the world's second-most populous nation had a responsibility in "a globalised and interconnected world" to stop the "explosive" growth of COVID-19 within its borders.

"India is home to one out of every six human beings on the planet. The pandemic has demonstrated that our size, genetic diversity and complexity make India fertile ground for the virus to rapidly mutate, transforming itself into a more contagious and more dangerous form," wrote Gandhi.

"Allowing the uncontrollable spread of the virus in our country will be devastating not only for our people but also for the rest of the world."

India's highly infectious COVID-19 variant B.1.617 has already spread to other countries, and many nations have moved to cut or restrict movements from India.

British Prime Minister Boris said on Friday the government needed to handle very carefully the emergence of new coronavirus strains in India that have since started to spread in the United Kingdom.

Meanwhile tonnes of medical equipment from abroad has starting to arrive in Delhi hospitals, in what could ease the pressure on an overburdened system.

VACCINATION RATES

In the past week, India has reported an extra 1.5 million new infections and record daily death tolls. Since the start of the pandemic, it has reported 21.49 million cases and 234,083 deaths. It currently has 3.6 million active cases.

Modi 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.

His government - which imposed a strict lockdown in March 2020 - has also been criticised for lifting social restrictions too soon following the first wave and for delays in the country's vaccination programme.

The government has been reluctant to impose a second lockdown for fear of the damage to the economy, though many states have announced their own restrictions.

Goa, a tourism hotspot on the west coast where up to one in two people tested in recent weeks for coronavirus have been positive, on Friday announced strict curbs from Sunday, restricting timings for grocery shops, forbidding unnecessary travel and urging citizens to cancel all gatherings.

While India is the world's biggest vaccine maker, it is also struggling to produce and distribute enough doses to stem the wave of COVID-19.

Although the country has administered at least 157 million vaccine doses, its rate of inoculation has fallen sharply https://graphics.reuters.com/HEALTH-CORONAVIRUS/INDIA/jbyprwkawve/chart.png in recent days.

India vaccinated 2.3 million people on Thursday, the most this month but still far short of what is required to curb the spread of the virus.

RECORD INFECTIONS

India reported another record daily rise in coronavirus cases, 414,188, on Friday, bringing total new cases for the week to 1.57 million. Deaths from COVID-19 rose by 3,915 to 234,083.

Medical experts say the real extent of COVID-19 is likely to be far higher than official tallies.

India's healthcare system is crumbling under the weight of patients, with hospitals running out of beds and medical oxygen. Morgues and crematoriums cannot handle the number of dead and makeshift funeral pyres burn in parks and car parks.

Infections are now spreading from overcrowded cities to remote rural villages that are home to nearly 70% of the 1.3 billion population.

Although northern and western areas of India bear the brunt of the disease, the south now seems to be turning into the new epicentre.

In the southern city of Chennai, only one in a hundred oxygen-supported beds and two in a hundred beds in intensive care units (ICUs) were vacant on Thursday, from a vacancy rate of more than 20% each two weeks ago, government data showed.

In India's tech capital Bengaluru, also in the south, only 23 of the 590 beds in ICUs were vacant.

The test-positivity rate — the percentage of people tested who are found to have the disease — in the city of 12.5 million has tripled to almost 39% as of Wednesday, from about 13% two weeks ago, data showed.

Syed Tousif Masood, a volunteer with a COVID-19 resource group in Bengaluru called the Project Smile Trust, said the group's helpline was receiving an average 5,000 requests a day for hospital beds and oxygen, compared with 50-100 such calls just one month ago.

"The experts say we have not yet hit the peak," he said. "If this is not the peak, then I don't know what will happen at the real peak."

Gandhi warns 'explosive' COVID wave threatens India and the world
 

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Comments (17)
Alan Rice
Alan Rice May 09, 2021 12:44PM ET
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Covid19: Cetacean Revenge ??
Sannit Jain
Sannit Jain May 07, 2021 11:25PM ET
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everyone knows where it started and leaked into the world by suppressing information. In India, atleast things are known and not suppressed. Sudden exponential spike combined with over confidence has brought all measures to term as "failed". Certainly the world has to learn from this and India in a brutal way. Help yourself first before.
Eudon Hickey
Eudon Hickey May 07, 2021 10:50PM ET
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Crisis actors again.
Dr Vikram Sharma
Dr Vikram Sharma May 07, 2021 2:34PM ET
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who said he is young. he is 50+. Indians don't take him seriously and you people are giving him so much importance. he is a puppet of China who has done a biowar with the world .
Pankaj Kamat
Pankaj Kamat May 07, 2021 2:34PM ET
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yes, he is 50+ with iq of 10year old. Only Reuters buys his arguments.
Sami Barakat
Sami Barakat May 07, 2021 2:18PM ET
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it will affect the rest of the world 🌎
Eudon Hickey
Eudon Hickey May 07, 2021 2:18PM ET
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What will? Covid, is a scam/hoax.Why do you think none of the big Pharma CEO’s got a vaccine yet? You think it is because they are considerate and “dont want to cut in”....hahaha
Alan Rice
Alan Rice May 07, 2021 1:20PM ET
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"Threatening the World" : That's the Idea.
Golden Berg
goldenberg May 07, 2021 12:50PM ET
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This vaccine is not approved on people. Read Phiser's covid19 update statement. They are planning to approve it late 2023. Until then, everyone vaccinated are just guinea pigs.
Kalpesh Dongre
Kalpesh Dongre May 07, 2021 12:04PM ET
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Govt ignored multiple early warning signs,given by Gandhi and now missing in action
Adam Paine
Adam Paine May 07, 2021 12:04PM ET
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funny how the image is focus on the old guy, not the young man in front of him...
Jon Bal
Jon Bal May 07, 2021 10:58AM ET
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guess that means more biden bucks on the way
Lisa Brewer Watkins
Lisa Brewer Watkins May 07, 2021 10:22AM ET
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Guess those vaccines ain't working. I'm curious to know if this is Just in India's poor low-caste population. hey could explain why they're not getting this under control, they want that population gone.
danny Levine
danny Levine May 07, 2021 9:50AM ET
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Gandhi? oh not that Gandhi
Edward Chong
Edward Chong May 07, 2021 9:50AM ET
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haha dont be so mean.
Mousty Mousty
Mousty Mousty May 07, 2021 5:27AM ET
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They dont have it worse than in any other countriy 10xpopulation give 10x the covid numbers its just math
Benjamin McIntire
Benjamin McIntire May 07, 2021 5:27AM ET
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Oh wow soooo smart! Thanks for sharing!!!
David David
David9 May 07, 2021 5:27AM ET
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China has the same population... explain why...
Mox Mox
Mox Mox May 07, 2021 5:27AM ET
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David David China lies
Pankaj Kamat
Pankaj Kamat May 07, 2021 5:12AM ET
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why Gandhi is so important to Reuters?
stranger luv
stranger luv May 07, 2021 2:45AM ET
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India whereas Indian Residents are facing worst Situation in Decades. Prior to Pandemic atleast one of the Family Member was in Job. No there is One Family Member our of 5 Row Houses is in Job. All others have either no options or they are selling on Streets to feed their families anyhow. Selling on Streets is also banned since it is Lock Down which is extended every 5 Days. We are in Worst Situation than 2020 since One out of 5 is facing Covid symptoms and all Hospitals are full from April 21. There is Oxygen crisis too.
biden dennis
biden dennis May 07, 2021 2:01AM ET
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this pm is arrogant n selfish, rather sacrifice lives and compete with china for vaccine diplomacy! dm stoolpid
stranger luv
stranger luv May 07, 2021 2:01AM ET
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Don't call him PM, he is Feku, PM is the most honourable post, but he do not deserve honor. Whole world is watching his weakness. He has not addressed the Nation in this worst situation. Left all things to States so that he can sit with his corporate friends and enjoy people death.
danny Levine
danny Levine May 07, 2021 12:06AM ET
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we know we know! lockdown and vaccines will fix it! now shut tf up
Benjamin McIntire
Benjamin McIntire May 07, 2021 12:06AM ET
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Please take your own advice and save us all some brain cells
 
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