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COVID lockdown empties Delhi streets amid deadly surge

Transmission electron microscope image of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, emerging from human cells. Credit: NIAID New Delhi led major cities across India into a weekend lockdown Saturday as the country confronts a fierce new coronavirus wave, with more than 230,000 fresh daily cases and families clamouring for drugs and hospital beds. Hopes that…

COVID-19
Transmission electron microscope image of SARS-CoV-2, the virus which causes COVID-19, appearing from individual cells. Credit: NIAID

New Delhi led major cities around India into a weekend lockdown Saturday as the nation confronts a ferocious new coronavirus wave, using greater than 230,000 new daily events and families clamouring for drugs and hospital beds.

Hopes which South Asia might have conquered the pandemic have been dashed with India seeing over two million new cases this month alone and Bangladesh and Pakistan also imposing shutdowns.

India added another record 234,000 instances Saturday to pass 14.5 million overall and 1, respectively 341 deaths took its own pandemic total to 175,649 deaths.

The per-capita rates remain low by international comparison, but the rate at which cases are climbing led the international Red Cross to call the South Asian surge”truly frightening”.

India now has three times the everyday cases of the United States, the world’s worst-hit nation.

After a federal lockdown a year ago contributed to an economic downturn, the Indian government is desperate to avoid another stoppage. However, Delhi combined Mumbai in ordering all but essential services to close.

Landmarks like the historic Red Fort where tens of thousands of individuals would normally gather were abandoned. “Not one person has turned up,” said security guard Anil Dayan. Police checked a number of the cars that strayed on the roads.

The city of over 20 million individuals today has the maximum daily events in India and restaurants, gyms and malls were closed. Weddings can go ahead with guests restricted to 50 people, while only 20 can attend funerals.

“Don’t panic. All essential services will be available through the weekend,” Delhi’s chief minister Arvind Kejriwal said.

Maharashtra, which includes Mumbai, Gujarat and IT hub Bangalore’s home state Karnataka also have imposed restrictions on movement.

Uttar Pradesh state, home to some 240 million people, has arranged a one time lockdown on Sunday.

Festival fears

Similarly, the northern state of Uttarakhand has restricted gatherings to 200 people–but exempted the enormous Hindu Kumbh Mela festival.

The amassing in Haridwar has brought up to 25 million people since January, including several 4.6 million this week alone, with most folks ignoring COVID-19 guidelines.

More than 1,600 individuals tested positive for in Haridwar in just three times this week and experts fear that lots of devotees will choose the virus back to their home towns and villages.

The latest round of unemployment also went forward in the West Bengal state election with long queues forming outside polling stations. Rival parties have been holding huge rallies in recent weeks fuelling super-spreader anxieties.

In the state capital Kolkata, railway employee Samaresh Tapna fell ill after attending one gathering and has been hospitalised.

“I felt angry with myself… I cursed my fate,” that the 42-year-old told AFP.

Medicines run brief

Hospitals are running short of oxygen and prescribed medicines such as Remdesivir and Fabiflu, prompting desperate folks to pay exorbitant black market rates.

Social media is full of horror stories of desperate calls that will assist a loved one needing hospital treatment for COVID-19 or additional ailments.

“I lost a cousin on Saturday. He was not admitted after a stroke. Tried 4 hospitals,” read one message on a Delhi neighbourhood WhatsApp group this week.

India’s push to vaccinate its 1.3 billion people has also hit obstacles, with only 117 million shots administered far and stocks running low, based on a local authorities.

“This is a wake-up call to the world. Vaccines must be available to everyone, everywhere, rich and poor to overcome this terrible pandemic,” said Udaya Regmi in the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), describing states in South Asia as”truly frightening”.

“We must redouble our efforts to contain this disease as too many lives are at stake,” Regmi added.



© 2021 AFP

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COVID lockdown empties Delhi roads amid deadly surge (2021, April 17)
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