Indian Prime Minister Modi loses state election amid criticism of pandemic response

Indian Prime Minister Modi loses state election amid criticism of pandemic response

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s party lost a key state in elections over the weekend amid growing criticism of its handling of the worsening Covid-19 crisis in the country.

India recorded more than 300,000 new cases for the 12th day in a row on Monday, bringing the country’s total number of infections to nearly 20 million, according to figures from the Ministry of Health. Experts fear the real number may be 10 times higher in the country of more than 1.35 billion people.

The country has also reported more than 215,000 total deaths, the third highest death toll in the world after the United States and Brazil.

Hospitals across India continued to face a lack of medical oxygen supplies and beds in intensive care units, as entire families were tested in flood-positive hospitals. This has left hospitals overwhelmed, with patients dying due to shortages of supplies.

Meanwhile, a New Delhi court has said it will punish government officials if allocated oxygen supplies are not delivered to hospitals, the Associated Press reported.

India, a country that makes vaccines for the rest of the world, faces a national shortage. The government announced last week that vaccination centers in Mumbai had to close due to reduced supply.

Health workers in PPE are treating patients with Covid-19 on Sunday at a temporary facility set up for those suffering from the virus in New Delhi.Tauseef Mustafa / AFP – Getty Images

Despite Modi’s frequent visits to West Bengal state in recent weeks to campaign, his Bharatiya Janata party failed to win the election. Experts said massive party rallies, alongside mass rallies for religious congregations like the Kumbh Mela, which lasted for a month in Haridwar, exacerbated the spread of the virus.

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee is set to win the state for the third time. Speaking at a press conference in Kolkata, the capital of West Bengal, Banarjee said tackling Covid-19 would be his government’s top priority in that state with a population of nearly 100 million.

India also broke a world record this weekend by going through 400,000 daily infections in a single day, as Modi’s government is criticized for not preparing for this painful second wave.

The pressure on Modi is increasing both internationally and nationally. Dr Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told The Indian Express that in order for India to tackle the “very difficult and desperate situation”, a temporary shutdown of the country would be a necessity. necessary measure.

“No one likes to lock the country down. Well that’s a problem when you do it for six months, ”he said. “But if you only do it for a few weeks, you could have a significant impact on the dynamics of the epidemic.”

Although a number of states in India, including the capital New Delhi, have declared independent lockdowns in recent weeks, the government has not imposed a national lockdown similar to the one implemented in March 2020.

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In its fight against the virus, India has received aid and supplies from several countries, including the United States. Administration officials said they were sending oxygen supplies, raw materials for vaccine production as well as rapid test kits. United States Agency for International Development tweeted that a fourth US plane carrying 20,000 cartridges of Remdesivir treatment drugs arrived in India on Monday.

However, many countries have also imposed travel restrictions on India, including the United States, United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, Germany and New Zealand.