SATARA – India halted its most popular sporting tournament on Tuesday and the country’s opposition leader called for a nationwide lockdown as the number of coronavirus infections surpassed 20 million, a dismal step crossed only by the United States.
Cricket officials have suspended the money-spinning Indian Premier League after the country added 10 million cases in just over four months, compared to more than 10 months for the top 10 million.
“These are tough times, especially in India, and while we have tried to bring some positivity and joy, it is imperative that the tournament is now suspended and everyone returns to their families and loved ones. in these difficult times, “the league said in a statement.
With 3.45 million active cases, India recorded 357,229 new infections in the past 24 hours, while deaths increased by 3,449 to a toll of 222,408, according to data from the Ministry of Health. Experts say, however, that the real numbers could be five to ten times higher.
“The only way to stop the spread of the corona crown now is a complete lockdown … The inaction of the Indian government is killing many innocent people,” Congressman Gandhi said on Twitter, referring to to the government.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government is reluctant to impose a nationwide lockdown for fear of economic fallout, but several states have imposed social restrictions.
The impoverished state of Bihar in the east of the country has ordered a lockdown until May 15 to stem the virus, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar said on Twitter. With more than 100,000 infections, his death toll is around 3,000, according to government figures.
The stop of the cricket tournament by the cricket-obsessed nation was the result of the virus crisis, its chairman, Brijesh Patel, told Reuters. The tournament, with an estimated brand value of $ 6.8 billion, was played without spectators in front of a huge TV audience this year, but has come under severe criticism for continuing at a time when the country’s healthcare system is in decline. on the verge of collapse.
Pic this week
The surge of the highly contagious Indian variant has overwhelmed the healthcare system and depleted vital oxygen supplies, while sick people have died in ambulances and parking lots outside hospitals.
Rows of funeral pyres set in parks and other open spaces are used to cremate overflowing corpses.
Modi has been criticized for failing to act sooner to limit the latest wave of infections and for letting millions of largely unmasked people attend religious festivals and crowded political rallies in March and April.
But a silver lining appeared on Monday in comments from a health ministry official who said infections in some areas were leveling off.
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Government modeling indicates a peak on Wednesday, days earlier than a previous estimate, as the virus has spread faster than expected.
India’s boom has coincided with a dramatic drop in vaccinations, hit by supply and delivery issues.
At least three states, including the wealthiest Maharashtra and the seat of the commercial capital of Mumbai, have reported a vaccine shortage, closing some vaccination centers.
As of Monday, the state injected 79,491 doses, up from 534,372 a week ago.
In neighboring Modi state of Gujarat, the three largest cities of Ahmedabad, Surat and Vadodara have limited vaccines to people between the ages of 18 and 44, officials said.
Forecasts from the two current vaccine producers in India show that it will take at least two months to increase the total monthly production from the current figures of 70 million to 80 million doses.
The number of people eligible to receive the vaccines has doubled to around 800 million since May 1. Only 9.5 percent of the population of 1.35 billion people received a dose.
India has invited Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson and Moderna Inc to sell its vaccines, but none have applied yet.
Pfizer told India there were no concerns about the safety of its product as authorities insist on small local trials for foreign vaccines despite a record rise in infections and a shortage of doses.
Among the international aid supplies that poured in on Tuesday were 545 oxygen concentrators from the United States, in its fifth shipment of medical equipment.