Struggling India crosses 1 million coronavirus cases as global crisis worsens - GulfToday

Struggling India crosses 1 million coronavirus cases as global crisis worsens


Medical workers tend to a patient suffering from the coronavirus at the casualty ward in Lok Nayak Jai Prakash Hospital, New Delhi, on Friday. Reuters

India on Friday became the third country in the world to record one million coronavirus cases, following Brazil and the United States where infections also continued to surge.

The virus has killed more than 588,000 people and infected nearly 14 million around the world since first being detected in China late last year. But, despite extraordinary restrictions on people travelling that have crippled the global economy, the pandemic is worsening in many parts of the world.

IndiaVirustestgirlsLab workers from the Bangalore municipality carry Rapid Antigen COVID-19 test kits to be used in containment zones. AFP

India's surpassing of one million infections came a day after confirmed cases in Brazil topped two million.

A surge of 34,956 new cases in India in the past 24 hours took the national total to 1,003,832.

The Indian health ministry also reported a record number of 687 deaths for a total of 25,602. It said 635,757 people have recovered and the recovery rate was continuing to improve at 63%.

The grim milestone comes at a time when several Indian states are imposing focused lockdowns to stem the outbreak amid frantic efforts by local governments to protect the economy.

TexasVirusA healthcare worker handles a sample at a United Memorial Medical Centre COVID-19 testing site in Houston. AP

So far, three states — Maharashtra, Delhi and Tamil Nadu —have accounted for more than half of total cases. But in India’s vast countryside, which is much less prepared and with weaker health care, the pandemic is clearly growing.

"The acceleration in cases remains the main challenge for India in the coming days,” said Dr Ashish Jha, director of the Harvard Global Health Institute, adding that a vast majority of cases were still being missed.

The United States also on Thursday posted yet another record daily spike in infections, as the virus deepened political divides with Western nations accusing Russia of trying to steal vaccine research.

IndiaviruswomantestA health official takes a swab sample from a patient at a COVID-19 point set up by Bangalore municipality. AFP

The hacking accusation came as European leaders prepared to hold a face-to-face summit on Friday in an attempt to hammer out a post-virus economic rescue plan.

With more than 600 people dying daily in India, lockdowns have been reimposed on millions of people across the world's second-most-populous nation.

India's main hotspots had previously been the megacities of Mumbai and New Delhi, but smaller cities and rural areas — where 70 per cent of Indians live — have recently begun to raise the alarm.

The coastal tourist region of Goa on Thursday evening became the latest Indian state to go under lockdown, imposing a three-day shutdown and a nightime curfew until Aug.10.

With per capita spending on health care among the lowest in the world, India's hospitals are reeling.

"The fear of catching the infection is very real as I am in a high-risk zone almost round the clock," Showkat Nazir Wani, a doctor working at an intensive care unit at Sharda Hospital just outside the capital New Delhi, said.

"It's not going to go away till a vaccine comes... I have to keep fighting and trying to save every single life."

Hack attack

Hopes for a vaccine were given a boost on Thursday when British media reported that an Oxford University trial had shown a prototype generated an immune response against the virus.

USvirustest1Teamsters Local 848 truck driver Carlos Gonzalez sits to be tested for COVID-19 in Long Beach, California. AFP

But hours later Britain's National Cyber Security Centre said the research project was among a number of British labs targeted by a hacking group attempting to "steal valuable intellectual property."

The agency said it was "almost certain" the hackers were part of Russian intelligence, with the US and Canada backing the claim in a joint security advisory.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov dismissed the idea, saying Russia has "nothing to do with these attempts."

Bars and schools were closed in Hong Kong this week as infections in the densely populated city started to climb, although the record infection numbers in the dozens is far lower than other parts of the world.

A record 293 cases were also reported in Tokyo on Friday.

In Melbourne, Australia's second-biggest city, a second wave has continued to worsen despite the reimposition of a lockdown. A daily record of 423 new cases were confirmed on Friday.

Brett Sutton, the chief health officer overseeing Melbourne, warned tougher restrictions were being considered for the city of five million people.

"We have not turned the corner here, worse than that," he said.


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