Hospitals in India have launched desperate appeals for oxygen as the nation’s Covid crisis spirals — India logged over 3.32 lakh COVID-19 cases on Friday, the highest-ever daily count recorded in the world, and 2,263 deaths since Thursday. India is second only to the United States in the total number of cases reported since the beginning of the pandemic.
The national capital is the worst-hit city in the country as it has been reporting the biggest daily spikes in Covid cases this month. Delhi on Friday logged 348 Covid-linked deaths – its biggest single-day spike in the death count. The city also reported 24,331 new coronavirus cases.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has held high-level meetings to review the COVID-19 situation in the country. He has also called for utilising the industry’s full potential to meet the demand for medical oxygen in the coming days, saying there is a need to increase the availability of oxygen cylinders as well as to upgrade the logistical facilities for its transportation. In a virtual meeting with leading oxygen manufacturers across the country, PM Modi urged the industry to utilise tankers meant to transport other gases for oxygen supply, saying the time now is not only to deal with the challenges but also to provide solutions in a very short time.
Many parts of the country have now tightened restrictions, with Delhi in lockdown and all non-essential services banned in Maharashtra.
Other countries have closed their doors to India, fearing a new variant spreading quickly in the country. The United Arab Emirates on Thursday became the latest nation to impose restrictions, while Canada halted flights from both India and Pakistan.
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The US administration has came under intense pressure from various quarters, including the powerful US Chambers of Commerce, lawmakers and eminent Indian-Americans, to ship AstraZeneca and other COVID-19 vaccines along with several life-saving medical supplies to India, which is witnessing a deadly surge in coronavirus cases.
“As the Covid pandemic inflicts a heavy toll on countries around the globe, the US Chamber strongly encourages the administration to release the millions of AstraZeneca vaccine doses in storage – as well as other life-saving support – for shipment to India, Brazil, and other nations hard-hit by the pandemic,” said Myron Brilliante, executive vice president and head of international affairs at the US Chamber of Commerce.
Amid increasing COVID-19 cases in Lakshadweep, Southern Naval Command at Kochi in Kerala has deputed two Naval Ships as “Oxygen Express” to ferry oxygen cylinders to islands and also to collect empty cylinders back to mainland for refilling.
“Taking in to account the rise in COVID-19 cases in the Union Territory of Lakshadweep, and to support the UTL administration, the Southern Naval Command at Kochi has deputed two Naval Ships as “Oxygen Express” to ferry Oxygen Cylinders to islands and also to collect empty cylinders back to mainland for refilling the cylinders,” read a press statement from Southern Naval Command.
Johnson & Johnson Covid vaccinations can restart, US health regulators said Friday, after the shots’ rollout was paused due to worries over blood clotting.
“We have concluded that the known and potential benefits of the Janssen COVID-19 Vaccine outweigh its known and potential risks in individuals 18 years of age and older,” said a statement from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.