India coronavirus: New record deaths as virus engulfs India

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India has recorded its highest daily coronavirus death toll since the pandemic began – a day after it became the first country to see more than 400,000 new cases.

Its health ministry said 3,689 people had died within the past 24 hours.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi met the health minister on Sunday morning to review the crisis.

Hospitals are battling to treat patients amid a chronic shortage of beds and medical oxygen.

Distressing images of families begging for hospital beds and life-saving supplies have been emerging for more than 10 days, while morgues and crematoriums remain overwhelmed.

Amid the crisis, vote counting started on Sunday for elections held in five states in March and April.

The outcomes will be watched for signs of how the pandemic has affected support for Mr Modi and his Hindu nationalist BJP party.

What’s the latest?
On Saturday, 12 people died at Delhi’s Batra Hospital after it ran out of oxygen – for the second time in a week.

The Times of India newspaper reported 16 deaths in the southern state of Andhra Pradesh due to oxygen shortages in two hospitals, and six in the Delhi suburb of Gurgaon.

Delhi High Court has now declared it will start punishing officials if life-saving supplies don’t make it to hospitals.

“Water has gone above the head. Enough is Enough,” said Justices Vipin Sanghi and Rekha Patil.

Experts have warned that India’s official death toll is a significant under-count. They have cited low testing rates and the number of people dying at home, especially in rural areas.

How is India doing on vaccination?
All adults in India are now eligible for a coronavirus vaccine. But the planned launch of a nationwide drive on Saturday faltered as several states said they did not have enough doses to start vaccinating those aged 18-44.

Despite being the world’s biggest producer of vaccines, the country is suffering an internal shortage and has placed a temporary hold on all exports of AstraZeneca to meet domestic demand.

Agencies

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