India struggled to contain one of the world’s worst COVID-19 outbreaks with nearly 400,000 new infections reported yesterday, as more international aid arrived in the South Asian nation to help end the crisis.
Surges in Brazil and Canada also highlighted the persistent threat of the COVID-19 pandemic, with the virus’ death toll approaching 3.2 million even as many nations ramp up their vaccination drives.
India expanded its vaccination program to all adults on Saturday, but many of its states are struggling with shortages, despite an export freeze for shots produced in the country.
Long queues were seen at vaccination centers in cities across India last weekend, with people desperate to be inoculated against a disease that has overwhelmed the country’s healthcare system, and even crematoriums and graveyards.
“We are here early in the morning to get vaccinated... I left my three-year-old at home to get vaccinated,” Megha Srivastava, 35, said at a private vaccination center in New Delhi. “It is a necessity now. We are seeing so many people testing positive.”
Social media platforms have been flooded with desperate pleas from people looking for oxygen cylinders, medicines and hospital beds as the COVID-19 wave causes widespread shortages.
India yesterday reported more than 392,000 new cases and nearly 3,700 COVID-19 deaths.
The dire situation prompted many nations including Taiwan, the US and the UK to dispatch emergency supplies including oxygen generators, masks and vaccines.
Yesterday, aid from France reached India, including eight oxygen generator plants and 28 ventilators, adding to the 120 ventilators from Germany that arrived on the day before.
New Delhi, one of the hardest-hit parts of the country, on Saturday extended its lockdown by a week.
US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Anthony Fauci said that India should go into lockdown to fight this wave.
However, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government has resisted imposing a national shutdown, despite many states and territories having imposed restrictions.
Known global infections are approaching 152 million, and fresh waves have also shaken many countries in the Americas.
Brazil, the worst-hit Latin American nation, has crossed 400,000 COVID-19 deaths — second only to the US, with many of its hospitals pushed to the brink of collapse.
A case surge in Canada’s most populous province of Ontario has been so intense that Ottawa sent the military and the Red Cross to the most affected areas to help care for critical patients.
Ontario’s healthcare system is nearing the breaking point, said Farial Faquiry, an intensive care nurse at Toronto’s Humber River Hospital.
“We’re stretched thin,” Faquiry said. “We’re tired and exhausted. Just exhausted.”
Many health professionals and caregivers are also frustrated with people who have not followed precautions.
“I think we all feel we have been let down a little bit by society,” said Jamie Spiegelman, a physician at the hospital.
Canada’s vaccine rollout has also stumbled because of supply issues, unlike its southern neighbor, the US, which has given at least one dose to more than half its adult population.
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